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

“These figures were largely as expected, confirming that retail sales are continuing to expand at a modest rate. They support our assessment that the economy as a whole will continue to grow in the fourth quarter of 2010, albeit at a slower rate than in the third quarter. However, longer-term comparisons show very weak growth in sales and the November figures may have been artificially inflated by purchases being brought forward ahead of the VAT increase in January, a trend that could intensify in December.   

“Businesses and consumers continue to face difficulties, and with prices increasing faster than wages disposable incomes are being squeezed. These pressures will no doubt intensify over the next few months when the Government’s deficit-cutting plan is implemented more forcefully. Nurturing the recovery, along with maintaining low interest rates, must remain a top priority. The Government must also make further efforts to enable businesses to create jobs and to drive growth.”