Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

British retail sales fell in December as consumers held onto their cash after snapping up discounted Christmas gifts the previous month, official data showed Friday.

Total sales slid 0.9 percent compared to November, the Office for National Statistics calculated, with all sectors except food and fuel in decline. That was slightly worse than analysts’ consensus forecast for a 0.8-percent drop.

Sales value increased by 0.3 percentage points month-on-month at food stores.

Sales had rebounded 1.3 percent in November as shoppers brought forward Christmas spending to bag Black Friday bargains.

Recent data from the GfK showed that consumer confidence in Britain fell to its lowest level in five years in December, as the purchasing power of wages was eroded by Brexit-fuelled inflation.

Earlier in the month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said its members reported zero year-on-year total sales growth in December, the worst performance for the month since 2008.

Since Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, a drop in sterling – making imported goods more expensive – has pushed up UK annual inflation and prompted many consumers to tighten their belts.

Brexit has also sparked widespread economic uncertainty because of the threat of a disorderly departure from the bloc at the end of March.