December sales stronger than anticipated

On a total basis, sales rose 6.0% against a 1.4% decline in December 2008.

Food sales growth picked up to its strongest since June, partly reflecting higher food price inflation. Wintry weather gave a good boost to clothing and footwear. Homewares sales showed further gains but against larger declines a year ago. Furniture slowed but health and beauty picked up, helped by Christmas gifting.

Non-food non-store sales (internet, mail-order and phone sales) in December were 26.5% higher than a year ago compared with 16.9% in November. Some benefited from shoppers buying online when snow prevented them getting out.

Does this bode well for the economy coming out of recession? We’ll tell you as soon as the figures come out.