Dec 8, 2009
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November retail sales up 1.8 percent

Dec 8, 2009

LONDON (Reuters) - Retail sales values rose at their slowest annual pace last month since August, held back by food sales where a fall in inflation led to their weakest performance in more than two years, a survey showed on Tuesday 8 December.

The British Retail Consortium said the value of like-for-like sales rose 1.8 percent in November compared with a year ago. The value of total sales -- which includes new floorspace -- was 4.1 percent higher.

Both readings were the weakest since August and may dampen optimism ahead of the crucial Christmas shopping period.

"We would have expected much stronger growth because the comparison is with very poor results in 2008 when November was the second worst performing month of the year," said BRC Director General Stephen Robertson.

The survey showed a fall in food price inflation hit food retailers' sales, which grew at their slowest pace since July 2007, while unseasonably mild weather hampered sales of clothes.

One bright spot was non-store sales -- internet, mail-order and phone sales -- which were 16.9 percent higher in November than a year ago.

Anecdotal evidence suggests many shops have seen a pick-up in trade in recent weeks, helped by consumers' desire to make the most of a temporary cut in sales tax.

Bellwether department store John Lewis recorded its best ever trading last week, with sales up by almost 14 percent.

(Reporting by Christina Fincher; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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