Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

High St Sales Leap Points to New Rate Rise

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

High St Sales Leap Points to New Rate Rise

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER JOHN

BRITISH retail sales rose more than twice as fast as expected in December, fuelling concerns that interest rates will rise again shortly.

Sales of flat-screen televisions and laptops drove activity on the High Street while online shopping reached new heights. Government statistics today show sales rose 1.1% on the month, the biggest monthly rise increase since June 2005, and the best December reading for three years.

The figures follow a mixed bag of Christmas results from retailers and show that any problems are company specific rather than broad-based. Paul Clarke, Barclays retail and wholesale adviser, said: "Sales were strong in the crucial run-up to Christmas but internet sales continue to rise, with more consumers avoiding the High Street rush.

Increasingly, there is a polarisation between retailers that do well and those that don't at Christmas."

He warned that the next quarter would be the acid test for retailers after three interest rate rises within six months. …

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