Responding to today's Retail Sales Index from the ONS, Rachel Lund, Head of Retail Insight & Analytics at the BRC said:

"Today’s figures from the ONS reaffirmed the story of Christmas retailing, seen in BRC figures released last week. British consumers weren’t shy of spending over the festive period, with sales in value terms holding up.  The month on month dive in volume growth may look alarming, but it’s a consequence of the shift in spending into November caused by the recent arrival of Black Friday, which the seasonal adjustment process will need a few more years to adjust to.

"However, the overall picture is of weak growth in quantities sold, which is not great for consumers and means downward pressure on GDP figures will continue. Inflation has meant household budgets simply aren’t stretching as far, particularly in the case of food shopping. Heavy discounting in non-food products in the few weeks before Christmas helped shoppers bag a bargain on last minute Christmas gifts, boosting volumes a little at the expense of retailers’ margins, but that did little to change the overall picture.

"While the inflationary impact on spending may subside a little bit this year, households may see little by way of a return to growth in their real spending power. With that in mind the Government should do all it can in the forthcoming trade talks to ensure the pain of price increases is not further added to by new tariffs on imports."