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UK December online sales up 30%

by Scott Bicheno on 13 January 2009, 10:28

Tags: General Business

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Looking on the bright side

If you turned on the BBC news this morning, you will have come away wondering whether you should bother leaving the house, as a succession of observers of the UK economy trudged onto the set to tell us it's all gone Pete Tong.

We had a chap from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) telling us that its survey for the fourth quarter 2008 was its worst ever. Then we had someone from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) fretting over equally dismal sales figures for the high street in December.

Now there's no doubting we're in a recession, and a bad one at that, but in their thirst for high drama most media seem to deliberately overlook any positive findings from these stats.

A classic example of this is the BRC report, which director general Stephen Robertson referred to as: "truly dreadful numbers". Yes, December like-for-like (which discounts the figures from stores opened in that year) retail sales were down 3.3 percent on a year ago, but that was entirely down to the High Street non-food sector.

High Street food and footwear sales were slightly up but the most striking figure, which seemed to get little if any attention, was a jump of 30 percent in non-food, non-store sales, which encompasses online, mail-order and telesales.

So it seems that the recession is driving people online to do more of their shopping, especially for things like consumer durables, online. The spike in December also shows that people are trusting etailers to deliver when they say they're going to, and hence are leaving their purchases later.