• Volumes down 0.4% on the month, up 0.7% on the year

Commenting on the retail sales figures for November, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“The retail sales figures showed a slightly larger monthly decline than was expected, which is disappointing. Longer-term comparisons, however, both on an annual and a three-monthly basis, still point to modest growth in sales. Small stores are performing better than larger ones, highlighting their resilience. On the basis of these figures, it is realistic to expect GDP to show minimal but positive growth in the fourth quarter of the year.

“While the November retail sales figures are weak, they are not surprising given the squeeze on disposable incomes due to relatively high inflation and the government’s austerity measures. This situation is likely to continue over the next few quarters, and growth in the economy will have to rely on more than consumer spending. Boosting net exports and business investment will be crucial to creating growth in 2012.

“While the government must persevere with efforts to reduce the deficit, more must be done to reallocate priorities within the overall fiscal plan. Following the positive messages in the Autumn Statement, businesses now want firm action in key areas such as credit-easing, cutting red tape and containing increases in business rates. The MPC can help to support growth by announcing an early increase in quantitative easing.”