UK retail bonanza boosted by oil price slump

Retail growth in the UK during the three-month period ending December grew by 2.3% compared to the previous three-month period, the highest growth since April 2002, the Office for National Statistics informed on Friday.

Three-month on three-month increases have occurred for 21 consecutive months, the longest period of sustained expansion since November 2007.

Retail volumes in just December 2014 were 4.3% higher than in December 2013, making it the 21st successive month of year-on-year growth.

Retail sales for the whole of 2014 were 3.8% higher than the previous year.

December retail sales (volume) were 0.4% higher than in the previous month, which had posted a 1.6% increase compared to October. Some retailers had very strong November sales thanks to Black Friday, which might have reduced their December performance.

Retail sales 2014 UK

Textile, footwear and clothing sales increased the most in 2014, where spending gained 17.2%. Other stores experienced a fall of 1.5%. Household goods stores rose by 10.7%, after declining by 7% in 2013. (Image source: Office for National Statistics)

Prices falling

Average prices in stores declined in December 2014 by 2.2% versus December 2013, the largest fall since June 2002 (-2.5%). Prices at petrol (US English: gas) stations were the main contributors to the year-on-year decline, which fell by 9.7%. Petrol stations saw the biggest one-year decline in prices since July 2009 (-13.7%).

British petrol prices at the pump are at their lowest level since October 2009, while diesel prices are at their lowest since March 2010.

The amount of money spent in the retail industry in December rose by 1.9% compared to the same month in 2013, and by 0.2% versus November 2014.

According to latest data (non-seasonally adjusted), average weekly spend in the retail industry was £9 billion in December 2014 compared to £8.9 billion in December 2013 and £7.9 billion in November 2014.

2014 a good retail year UK

Source: “A comparison of retail sales movements in Great Britain in 2014 with those from previous years,” Office for National Statistics.

The value of online sales fell by 2.8% in December compared to the previous month, the largest decline since August 2012 (-7.1%). Online sales represented 11.3% of all retail sales in December 2014. Compared to December 2013, online sales increased by 8% in December 2014.

Retail experts say the crisis among delivery (courier) companies following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which was widely publicized in the media, may have contributed to the online decline in December, as shoppers worried they might not receive their packages by Christmas.