UK retail sales jump in crucial Christmas period

LONDON (AP) — U.K. retail sales jumped more than expected during the crucial Christmas period despite poor weather before the holiday.

The Office of National Statistics says retail sales leapt by 2.6 percent during December compared with the previous month. Economists had predicted a rise of 0.2 percent. Friday's report was surprising because major chains such as Tesco had reported dismal figures for the period, and suggests the retail sector is supporting the economic recovery.

The statistics office says there was a record 8.7 percent month-on-month increase in the quantity of goods bought at department stores. But small stores led the charge. Marc Ostwald, a strategist with Monument Securities, says that surge may have come from the poor weather, which may have prompted consumers to shop locally.

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