Christmas Shopping Leaves Retailers Nervous
There are signs that Christmas shoppers are adopting a "wait and see" approach in the hope of a price war among retailers in the run-up to December 25.
The latest sales figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show a rise of 0.4% during November, a figure it said was flattered by weak comparisons with last year.
The organisation stated that shops were in a "state of nervousness" about the festive season as a result.
Its survey quoted several toy retailers as saying that Christmas shopping was starting later this year, while online sales also delivered their third worst performance of the year.
Retailers had been hoping for stronger November trading after a battering the previous month when retail sales volumes dropped 0.8% month-on-month, amid declining consumer confidence and rising inflation.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at BRC's survey partner KPMG, said November had been a cautious month: "It appears that consumers know they have to spend before Christmas but are holding off for as long as they can to see if there might be bargains available in the next few weeks.
"Pricing throughout the month and strategic promotions will be fundamental in a key month," he said.
But the BRC said tablet computers were a strong driver of growth in the electrical goods market in November, which also benefited as people bought cooking items ahead of Christmas.
Clothing sales were boosted by the fashion for all-in-one pyjamas, known as onesies.
Singers Rihanna and Robbie Williams are among the celebrities who have stepped out in their own versions of the adult romper suits.
The colder weather helped boost winter clothing ranges and boots.
Food sales faded throughout the month but the launch of festive Christmas adverts helped boost sales of Christmas crackers and confectionery.