Christmas shopping slumped to the lowest level in two years in December

Credit: PA

Christmas shopping slumped to the lowest level in two years, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Retail sales fell by 3.2% in December, down from a 1.4% uptick in November. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a fall of just 0.5%.

The December sales drop was the biggest monthly fall since January 2021, when coronavirus restrictions affected sales.

The higher figure for November suggests shoppers opted to scoop Black Friday deals rather than waiting for December to make their Christmas purchases.

Pound sterling had dipped 0.27% against the US dollar by the time stock markets closed in London on Friday following the weak retail data.

The news continues to paint a downbeat picture for the UK economy, after gross domestic product (GDP) fell more than expected in the third quarter of 2023, increasing the risk of the country falling into recession.

Inflation also unexpectedly rose for the month of December, up to 4% from 3.9% in November.

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