James Moore: Let's not get too excited about the seasonal spending splurge

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The Independent Online

Outlook Raise a glass to Greene King. The pub and restaurant group reported a sparkling 5 per cent increase in sales over Christmas. But fill it with Cava rather than Champagne.

The problem with the rash of Christmas trading statements is that the raw numbers only tell you so much. As the company admitted. This year's midweek Christmas meant they were flattered a bit because it maximised the number of drinking days. And unfortunately consumers are now tightening their wallets as well as their belts.

The same could yet be true for the economy if the consumer-led recovery that has got George Osborne so excited isn't supported by increased business investment and an increase in other activity. Wages are still flat and the seasonal spending surge was probably fuelled by a borrowing binge. We're becoming the wonga.com nation. And the cost of that to Great Britain plc and its economy could yet prove ruinous. Best keep that fizz on ice.