The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said that retailers will be holding their breath ahead of Christmas this year, in hope that the December sales period provides good business.

In a statement released today (Friday, December 16), the BRC said that recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) Retail Sales Index figures indicate that “sales growth failed to keep pace with inflation”.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that sales volumes dropped for the eighth month in a row in November.

“Black Friday provided a small boost to retailers, but there are signs that many consumers are holding off Christmas spending until the last moment,” she said.

“Retailers may be slightly reassured by the marginal improvement in consumer confidence, but it remains well below levels seen even at the height of the pandemic due to the ongoing cost-of-living squeeze.

“There was stronger growth for furniture, floors and textiles, as households chose to concentrate on improving the home ahead of Christmas.

“But, many retailers will be holding their breath as they look to the hugely important December sales period.

Dickinson warned that, without government support, retailers may see their costs and prices rise even more.

“Given the pressure currently bearing down on the retail industry from higher energy and input costs, it is vital government provides support for retailers as it puts in place future arrangements for the EBRS (Energy Bill Relief Scheme) from April 2023,” she said.

“Without clear targeted support, retailers will see their costs – and potentially prices – climb even higher.”