Retail sales growth slows sharply in December amid Omicron fears

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UK retail sales growth slowed sharply in the year to December as concerns about the Omicron variant kept shoppers away from high streets, according to the latest survey from the Confederation of British Industry.
The CBI’s monthly retail sales balance slid to +8 from +39 in November, with sales expected to grow at a similar pace next month.

CBI lead economist Ben Jones said: “Omicron’s chilling impact on activity on the High Street, with retail sales growth slowing and expectations for the coming month sharply downgraded.

“On the supply side, retailers have been making progress in building up stocks, which were seen as more than adequate to deal with expected demand over Christmas. The concern now is the potential for rapidly rising sickness and staff absences to cause renewed disruption to supply chains in the New Year.

“It’s crucial that the Government takes steps to help society live confidently with the virus, including meaningful dialogue between business, government and unions to assess the impact of restrictions and the need for future support.”

The survey was conducted between 24 November and 14 December and responded to by 109 firms, 41 of which were retailers.

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