We were expecting Plan B measures to dent retail sales in the crucial Christmas trading period, but the numbers are even worse than feared.
ONS stats show sales tumbled 3.7pc in December compared to the previous month. Economists had been expecting a decline of just 0.6pc.
Many Brits are thought to have done their Christmas shopping earlier last year amid fears about supply chain disruption and empty shelves. Tougher restrictions last month only exacerbated this.
To make things worse, there’s a grim outlook for the high street as well. Soaring inflation, rising interest rates and looming tax rises are set to spark a cost-of-living crisis, leaving consumers with less cash to splurge.
5 things to start your day
1) Britishvolt wins £1.8bn to build UK gigafactory Electric battery start-up secures £100m of taxpayer cash and £1.7bn from a developer to fund Northumberland facility
2) Jim Ratcliffe and Centrica back new hydrogen plant on the Humber Saltend site owner claims it will be able to cut emissions by about 1m tonnes a year
3) Top investor casts doubt on future of Unilever boss after aborted Glaxo bid Terry Smith brands the aborted £50bn proposal a ‘near-death experience’ in new attack
4) Peloton shares slide on production pause report Demand for its connected fitness gear has suffered a “significant reduction” amid rising competition and price sensitivity, says report
5) Michael Gove threatens developers with planning veto unless they create £4bn cladding fund Levelling Up Secretary says housebuilders need to fund compensation scheme for flat owners affected by the cladding crisis
What happened overnight
Markets fell in Asian trade Friday following another wave of losses in Wall Street as traders returned their focus to the Federal Reserve’s plans to ramp up interest rates.
Angst about the bank’s determination to fight surging inflation by removing its ultra-loose monetary policy is dealing a severe blow to the rally in global markets that ran virtually uninterrupted for almost two years, leaving most in the red at the start of 2022.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei lost 1.4pc, while Hong Kong’ Hang Seng Index was down 0.2 percent the day after a more than 3pc hike. Shanghai was down 0.4pc, and Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta were also off.
Coming up today
- Corporate: Close Brothers, Ninety One (trading update)
- Economics: GfK consumer confidence (UK); consumer confidence (EU); retail sales (UK)