A strong performance for online sales contributed to the highest annual growth in the retail sector in nine years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK has revealed.
A good performance by retailers in December led to an increase in annual sales by 2.6 per cent, contributing to an overall annual increase of 5.3 per cent. These impressive sales came as a surprise to forecasters who predicted an increase of just 0.4 per cent in December.
The Home Retail Group posted the most impressive online sales figures, with sales increased by 3.8 per cent – totalling £1.8 billion for Argos in the 18 weeks to January, ft.com reports.
Technology retailer Dixons also saw a 23 per cent rise in sales across Britain and Ireland in the two months to January.
Economists have suggested that excellent sales figures for online retailers during this period were due to the bad weather, which could have prevented or discouraged shoppers from reaching the stores they would usually go to.
Katie Davies from the ONS told bbc.co.uk that: “This December was much better than what we’ve seen in previous years.”
Ms Davies also said that online sales made up 12 per cent of overall retail sales. She attributed this growth to many retailers investing heavily in improving their websites.