Doubt cast on official retail sales figures
Retail sales rose at their fastest rate in nine years in December, the Office for National Statistics reported yesterday. However, some City analysts immediately cast doubt on the reliability of the figures.
According to the ONS, retail sales grew by 2.6 per cent month-on-month in December, well ahead of City expectations of 0.4 per cent. Department stores put on a record monthly sales increase of 8.7 per cent. Total sales were 5.3 per cent higher than in the Christmas period of 2012, representing the fastest annual rate of growth since 2004.
David Tinsley of BNP Paribas described the figures as "spectacular and surprising" and said that deep discounting by stores drove a huge increase in sales volumes. However, Andrew Goodwin of the Ernst & Young Item Club said he was "extremely sceptical" of the figures, pointing out that they did not tally with mixed reports from individual firms of their festive trade and last week's survey from the British Retail Consortium which pointed to annual sales growth of just 1.8 per cent last month. "If they [the ONS] figures are not revised, then the chances are there will be a large fall in January," said Mr Goodwin.
Another sceptical voice was Société Générale's Brian Hilliard, who pointed out that the strong month-on-month growth probably reflected the ONS's difficulties in seasonally adjusting its Christmas figures, which always show a sharp spike at the year's end. "The seasonal factor presents a misleading picture of sales," he said. "For the winter sales season as a whole, we do not expect that sales will have been exceptional."
None the less, the performance bolstered hopes that the overall economy continued to grow strongly in the final quarter of 2013.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Kim Jong-un 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
iJobs Money & Business
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...
£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...
£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...