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Shops report better Christmas trading

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Stores were delighted that retail sales rose at their sharpest rate in two months in December, as consumers made shopping their top UK investment, according to figures from the CBI business group.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) added that business seemed to be going “reasonably well” and that large shopping malls like Bluewater in Kent have assessed that 2006 could well be a record year.

“After a slow start, Chrismas sales are really starting to build,” said John Longworth, chairman of the CBI survey panel. “But consumers have left it late to hit the shops and make their annual UK investment in Christmas gifts. This was perhaps due to the unseasonably warm weather and the timing of Christmas Day itself.”

However, in glum contradiction to these upbeat reports about UK investment in retail terms, shopping analysts Footfall said that the number of shoppers hitting the High Street this Christmas is down 9% on last year.

In the online shopping sector, though, the figures show that the Internet is increasingly becoming the shopping arena of choice for millions of people. Online store representative group IMRG predicted that consumers will spend £7bn online this year and that this will continue to accelerate in years to come.




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