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Christmas boost as retail sales up by 2.1pc in December

THE VOLUME of retail sales got a Christmas boost in December when they increased by 2.1pc compared with November.

There was an annual increase of 3pc but when car sales are stripped out the monthly increase was just 0.2pc.

The main contributor to the monthly increase was cars sales, up 26.3pc and department stores which added on over 8pc.

However, the hike in car sales could be attributed to the introduction of the 2pc VAT hike to 23pc for luxury goods in January as consumers made their purchases ahead of the move.

“On a year-on-year basis the weather was also a factor with record snowfalls in the latter part of 2010 impacting severely on sales,” said Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers.

The value of retail sales also increased in December but again car sales contributed to the boost.

Despite the increase, economists said there is little to get excited about overall.

“The Government has acknowledged that exports will remain the only significant source of positive momentum in the economy over the next couple of years, and safeguarding and expanding the economy’s export base will remain a critically important objective of official policy,” he added.