High street is hoping for a last-minute rush

Retailers are expecting a last-minute rush from shoppers
Retailers are expecting a last-minute rush from shoppers
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Retailers are expecting a last-minute rush from Christmas shoppers as figures out today show a modest sales rise in November.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said total UK retail sales were up 1.8 per cent on November 2011, or 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said the month got off to a “flying start” helped by end-of-month paydays, mid-season sales and a later half term. But sales growth slowed as November unfolded, suggesting that customers are being careful not to spend too much too soon.

“The emphasis continued to be on value,” he said.

The same caution hit online sales, which delivered their third worst performance of the year, up 7.5 per cent on the year before but showing no material pick-up from October.

Robertson added: “With consumers conscious that there will be a full shopping weekend immediately before Christmas, retailers are counting on a last-minute rush.”

Todays’ figures are an improvement on the previous month, when total sales added just 1.1 per cent year-on-year.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at accountant KPMG, said some shops would be tempted to offer early discounts. “If volumes don’t pick up significantly in the next two weeks, some will bow to pressure to clear stocks and cut prices,” he said.