UK High Street Sales To Reach £342bn In 2014

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Britain’s retail sector is celebrating a record-breaking year as official figures are projecting an all-time high for sales in 2014.

The forecast from the Office of National Statistics shows that sales for the year are expected to reach £342bn – a £48bn increase since 2010.

Pre-Christmas sales are up by 5.2% compared with last year.

The Government says the High Street is fighting back with successes not limited to online retailers and big hitters.

Estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills indicate a record-breaking year for independent and small businesses with £72bn in turnover.

Britain’s retail successes have been credited in part to national promotional days like Black Friday and Panic Saturday.

But small businesses have benefited too, with more than £500m being taken across the UK on 6 December, which was dubbed Small Business Saturday.

Sky News spoke with Aylesbury residents Helen and Hannah Meade, a mother and daughter who have been taking advantage of Christmas bargains.

They explained how a modern Christmas is about putting money aside, about spending cleverly and shopping around for the best deal.

“We make a budget for each child,” Hannah Meade said.

“And we save for four months ahead of Christmas. This year it’s not too bad because I’ve put money aside to do some shopping for next year in the January sales.”

Commenting on the retail figures, Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “The return of the high street is fantastic news and goes to show that we are on course for prosperity.”

Labour however has warned against complacency based on projections.

In a statement, the party said: “Britain’s retail sector leads the world in innovation, supports thousands of jobs and we want to see it go from strength to strength.

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“But sadly under the Tory-led government, across the board growth has been patchy, unbalanced and unsustainable, benefiting only those at the top.”

Christmas debt is certainly a real issue for many. The latest figures from the Bank of England show that unsecured consumer loans, excluding student loans currently stand at £167.9bn.

Of that, credit card debt accounts for £60.83bn in October alone.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of the debt charity StepChange, told Sky News: “Draw up a budget. How much money have you got coming in, how much can you afford to spend.

“And if you have still got a problem after your budget, you are in debt, go and talk to the people you owe money to, go and talk to the banks, the energy companies because they should help you.”

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