LONDON (AP) -- British retailers reported a modest 1.8 percent rise in sales in November compared with a year earlier, when the financial crisis was in its most acute phase, the British Retail Consortium said Tuesday.
The rise is much smaller than the 3.8 percent sales increase seen in October, and the report's authors said the results were weaker than expected.
The group's director, Stephen Robertson, said "consumer confidence is fragile and has taken a turn for the worse."
The report said consumers were still cautious about spending, but shops were at least confident that sales would not be as bad as some expected earlier this year.
The figures do not account for new stores opened over the past 12 months. Including additional floor space, total sales were up 4.1 percent.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, which cooperated in preparing the report, said lower food prices had prevented a stronger rise in sales value.
"Once the fact that food sales growth slowed further is factored in, largely reflecting lower food price inflation, it represents a solid start to Christmas trading," she said.