LONDON, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Britain retail sales fell by 0.1 percent in both volume and value in the last month of 2012 compared with the previous month, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday.
Compared with a year earlier, the quantity of goods sold rose by a worse-than-expected 0.3 percent. However, the amount of goods bought in December was estimated to have increased by 0.3 percent in December compared withe same period in 2011.
Clothing and food sales were weak, but online retailers performed relatively well.
Retail sales of textiles, clothing and footwear dropped 3.5 percent in quantity year-on-year in December, while the amount spent fell by 2.8 percent with the prices of such goods increasing by 1.2 percent last year.
The ONS said the proportion of sales made online fell at a slower rate between November and December than seen in previous years and was 1.2 percent higher compared to December 2011.
The estimated weekly spending across all retailing in Britain was 8.5 billion pounds (13.5 billion U.S. dollars) in December 2012 compared with 8.4 billion pounds in December 2011.
Figures show the busy shopping period before and after Christmas failed to give a festive boost to British retailers.
A study measuring corporate distress levels among British businesses, conducted by Begbies Traynor, found that "critical" financial issues are facing almost 140 retailers, even though many are at the peak of their annual cash cycle.
This means 2013 is likely to witness a rising number of retail insolvencies, affecting not only single retail outlets but also several major national and regional retail chains.
"Overall, we predict a number of national or regional retail chains could fail in the next 12 months with a total of 140 companies already on our critical watch list, meaning they are unlikely to see the year out," said Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor.