Retail sales figures for January will give the Treasury a fright. A fall of 8% was much larger than the more modest 3% expected by City economists and reveals how shoppers, when confronted by a third lockdown, were reluctant to keep calm and carry on.
There was a faint hope that after a disastrous Christmas period, and a year that ranked as the worst for consumer spending on record, we might see retailers start 2021 with a fresh set of wings. It was not to be.
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