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British retail sales worst for December

Jan. 21, 2011 at 12:13 PM

LONDON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- December retail sales in Britain were the worst on record, with sharp drops in sales of food and fuel in the run-up to Christmas, the government said.

The Office for National Statistics said Friday retail sales volumes dropped 0.8 percent last month from November, The Guardian reported. Shoppers spent $62.6 billion last month, hampered by a winter blast that sent temperatures plunging and prices rising, the office said.

"This is the 11th consecutive fall in food store sales and the lowest on record," statistician Kate Davies said. "One factor to blame was that December 2010 was the coldest December in 100 years. Another factor was a 5 percent rise in prices of goods sold at food stores."

Sales at supermarkets and other food stores were 0.9 percent lower in December, dragging the annual decline to 3.4 percent, the largest drop on record, the Office for National Statistics said. Fuel sales fell 5.9 percent, clothing sales dropped 2 percent and household goods were down 0.9 percent.

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