// Research from the CBI has confirmed retail sales are slowing
// Consumers are concerned about the surge in Omicron cases
Retail sales grew by just 8% year-on-year to December, according to the survey. This marks a considerable slowdown from last month, when retail sales were showing a 39% increase, compared to 2020 figures.
Sales are expected to grow by 5% in January 2022.
The latest CBI survey, which is conducted each month, also found other warning signs which backed up stories of the impact of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Only a third of the retailers who were surveyed said that sales after 8 December – when the Government announced the Plan B restrictions – were higher than the same period last year.
“Our December survey confirms what we’ve been hearing anecdotally about Omicron’s chilling impact on activity on the high street, with retail sales growth slowing and expectations for the coming month sharply downgraded,” said CBI lead economist Ben Jones.
“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.”
Consumers and businesses alike are now waiting to see if the Government will introduce further pandemic restrictions before the end of this month, or in the new year.