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Retail sales hit in January, according to ONS

Total retail sales in January fell by value and volume month-on-month but climbed year-on-year, the Office for National Statistics reported.

In January clothing and footwear stores’ sales rose 3%. By volume, clothing and footwear shops were up 6.7% year-on-year.

Under new methodology which now includes automotive fuel sales, retail sales were down 1.3% by value and 1.8% by volume. Excluding fuel, the declines were 0.6% and 1.2% respectively.

Richard Hyman, strategic adviser to Deloitte, said: “Today’s figures from the ONS showing a fall in the rate of retail sales growth is not a surprise.  The heavy snowfall which swept across most parts of the country last month will have deterred people from hitting the High Street.  However, the weather will not be the only reason retailers feel a chill in 2010.

“Consumer spending held up surprisingly well in 2009 but the signals are less encouraging this year.  Income taxes and National Insurance will rise and following the General Election, the next Government will have the task of tackling public debt.  This is likely to include a mix of spending cuts and increased taxes and it is difficult to imagine the consumer not being hit in some way or other.”

Snow and cold weather is likely to have had an impact.

However sales by value were ahead 3.2% on January 2009 and 0.9% by volume. Excluding fuel the increases were 3.7% and 2.6% respectively.

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