Disappointing retail sales point to weak economy in Q4

21st January 2013

Volume of retail sales down 0.

1% on the month, up 0.3% on the year  Commenting on today's retail sales figures, published today by the ONS, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: -In spite of positive recent announcements by some companies, the retail sales figures are incredibly disappointing. The expected Christmas revival did not happen, and major high street firms are now going to the wall. Given the stagnation we are seeing it is little surprise that the retail sector remains in a relatively parlous state. In spite of the weak figures, businesses are still confident that they can drive growth in 2013. But in order to do this the government should do all it can to kick-start growth. Ministers should recognise there is a need to help retailers by opening up opportunities for UK companies to exploit both domestic and overseas markets, and help promote UK goods to satisfy international trading demands. David Kern, BCC Chief Economist, added: -These figures were again disappointing, and slightly weaker than predicted. In the previous three months of 2012, the volume of retail sales fell by 0.6% compared with the previous quarter, and this reinforces the risk that the ONS will announce next week a small negative figure for the fourth quarter. This situation is concerning, but some perspective is needed, and we should not descend into unnecessary gloom. -There are also positive features in the economy. In recent days we heard welcome news of strong UK car exports, and our own recent survey also points to relatively strong business confidence. It is premature to talk about a triple-dip recession, but it is clear that the economy's performance is too weak, and sustained measures are needed to support growth. While pressing ahead with spending cuts in key areas, the government must put greater efforts into rebuilding the economy's productive potential through stimulating investment, and more effective measures to increase the flow of lending to credit-worthy businesses.

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