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UK retail sales stay flat in December

U.K. retail sales remained flat in the year to December after edging down 3% in November following six months of steadily declining annual sales, according to a retailer survey by the Confederation of British Industry.

The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for sellers to report a 3% rise in sales volume in December.

"While stagnating sales volumes in December are hardly something to cheer about, the figures at least provide hope that the recent period of falling sales has passed," CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

A net 1% of retailers expect sales volumes to remain unchanged in the year to January 2020, while a net 31% reported that sales were seen as poor for this time of year. However, a balance of 5% of respondents believe January sales will be above average for the time of year.

A balance of 10% reported a drop in orders placed on suppliers, and a net 4% expect a further decline in January.

Annual internet sales growth slowed further in December as the net positive balance dropped to 18% from 25% in November. Sales are expected to pick up in January with a corresponding balance of 31%.