BUSINESS LIVE: Retail sales slump; FCA drops M&C Saatchi investigation

BUSINESS LIVE: Retail sales slump; FCA drops M&C Saatchi investigation; Shell blasts ‘body blow’ court ruling

British retail sales slumped in December after consumers did much of their Christmas shopping earlier than usual in November and many consumers stayed at home due to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Sales volumes fell by 3.7 per cent from November, a far bigger hit than the 0.6 per cent decline forecast by economists and the biggest fall since January of last year when the country was under a coronavirus lockdown.

The Financial Conduct Authority has closed an investigation into advertising group M&C Saatchi, with no enforcement action to be taken.

M&C Saatchi, which earlier this month said it did not see much merit in a possible all-share takeover instigated by its biggest investor, software entrepreneur Vin Murria, has also upgraded its profit outlook.

Shell’s boss has lashed out at a landmark climate change ruling from a Dutch court that he said felt like a ‘body blow’.

Ben van Beurden said it was ‘deeply troubling’ that the oil giant was being singled out for the way the world uses energy.

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Compared with December 2020, sales volumes were down by 0.9%, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.