Severe snowfall at the start of December led UK retail sales volumes to drop by 0.3% on a like-for-like (LFL) basis, The British Retail Consortium has revealed.

The data, published in association with KPMG’s Retail Sales Monitor shows that non-food was hit hardest by the poor weather, as total sales grew a paltry 1.5% year-on-year compared to the 6% rise in December 2009.

Internet, mail order and phone sales saw an increase of 18% in the month, which helped to offset consistently poor non-food sales which were down 0.8% LFL on a three-month weighted average to the end of 2010.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, said of the results, “The unusually early winter weather made a difficult Christmas worse. With mounting concerns about the impact of spending cuts and the wider economy, sales growth has been weak since last summer.

“December was always likely to be similarly unspectacular but the snow and ice dealt an extra blow to business for many retailers.”

Trading at grocers fared better than at other retailers during the three months to December, with food sales increasing by 4.4% in total and 2.1% on a LFL basis.

This Christmas period saw much slower trade than was hoped, however, and it puts many retailers in a difficult position at the start of 2011.

Despite the drop in sales, the BRC is remaining positive about the long-term economic outlook for UK retail but insists that the government must not strangle the industry further with red-tape when it is in a fragile position.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com