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High street prices decline says Verdict

Jan '06
Despite fears of a slowdown in sales on Britain's high streets, the British Retail Consortium has reported that total retail sales in December 2005 were 6.2 per cent up on the year before, the best result for any month since May 2004.

The BRC also reported that like-for-like sales rose by 2.6 per cent over the year - the best such result for 19 months.

However, high street prices are falling, with Verdict estimating that goods prices fell about 1.5 per cent on average last year.

The figures came as the John Lewis Partnership reported like-for-like sales which were up 7 per cent in the seven weeks to January 7.

It is believed by analysts that the figures could swing the balance of opinion at the Bank of England away from cutting interest rates this month or next.

While we believe December will produce much stronger growth than we initially envisaged these figures should be
treated with some caution.

Consumers have undoubtedly left their Christmas spending until later than ever and December will therefore produce relatively strong growth, but there are other factors influencing the upward trend in the BRC figures which should not be ignored.

Firstly, looking at the BRC's analysis of each sector, food & drink produces one of the best performances, while the
majority of other sectors were still reporting challenging times.

The BRC tracks figures from a sample of key retailers
including the major supermarkets which, as these retailers account for over a quarter of retail sales, weight the results

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