Retail sales growth slowed in the year-to-December to 8%, down from 39% last month, as the impact of the Omicron variant affected trading.
According to the latest CBI monthly Distributive Trades Survey, despite the new restriction, retail sales were seen broadly in line with seasonal norms in December, having been “well above” typical levels in November.
However, the group warned that sales are expected to be “poor” next month.
Nonetheless, stock levels in relation to expected sales were reported as “more than adequate” for the first time since February this year and they are expected to be marginally similar in January 2022.
Meanwhile, wholesalers reported that sales growth slowed to 27% from 47% the previous month, with similar results expected next month.
Ben Jones, CBI lead economist, said: “Our December survey confirms what we’ve been hearing anecdotally about Omicron’s chilling impact on activity on the High Street.
“On the supply side, retailers have been making progress in building up stocks, which were seen as more than adequate to deal with expected demand over Christmas.”