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British retail sector ends holiday season with 'respectable' showing

Jan. 10, 2014 at 8:53 AM

LONDON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A retail trade group official in Britain said holiday shopping in 2013 ended with a "respectable" showing that included a surge in online sales.

The growth average was 2.2 percent, with same-store sales in December rising 0.4 percent, a slightly higher gain than the 0.3 percent same-store comparison in 2012, the British Retail Consortium said.

There was a 19.2 percent gain in online sales from December 2012 to December 2013, it said.

"This is a respectable result overall, in line with our prediction that Christmas trading in 2013 would reflect that while confidence levels were higher than the previous year this wasn't always matched by more money in pockets" said Helen Dickinson, director general of the trade group.

"The last-minute rush also arrived as expected, giving a major boost to sale in the final few days before Christmas," she said.

"Online sales surged in December, representing almost one in five items sold, proving that retail sales growth is being driven by the click of a mouse, rather than the ring of the tills," said David McCorquodale, head head of retail at KPMG, a consulting firm.

"December 2013 was all about nerve, margin and multi-channel," he said. "After competitive campaigns run by the major retailers, those retailers who held their nerve and provided a seamless service between channels will feel pleased, whilst those who discounted heavily to force sales will count the cost in margin."

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