Britain's retail sales down in September

Britain's retail sales down in September

Figures earlier this week showed that inflation hit a five-year high of 3 per cent in September, piling more pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates next month.

On an annual basis, sales rose 1.2%, falling below the 2.1% increase analysts had forecast, while the 2.4% increase from the previous month was revised lower to 2.3%.

"These increased costs are reflected in the more rapid growth in the amount spent when compared with the quantity bought".

The quantity bought in Britain's retail sector rose 1.2% in September from the same month in 2016, down from 2.3% growth in the year to August and well below the expected 2.3%, ONS data showed. Department store sales grew by 9.4% to account for 14.5% of sales, and food sales by 10.3% (5.3% of retail sales in the sector).

Growth for the third quarter of the year slowed to a year-on-year rate of 1.5 per cent, its lowest since the second quarter of 2013 and well below the 2.1 per cent pencilled in by city forecasters. This was also weaker than the expected 2.1 percent.

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Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, said: "September's retail sales saw a monthly decline of 0.8 percent, reversing August's growth".

Inflation in the United Kingdom has risen to its highest level in five years, squeezing the spending power of households but giving a boost to pensioners who will enjoy an increase in their state income.

"As demand softens in much of the industry, retailers will have to make hard decisions about the extent to which they are able to discount in the run up to Christmas to encourage consumers to part with their cash". Rising costs are eating into margins, prices rises are absorbing the pounds in shoppers wallets, while the simple economics underpinning current spending behaviour aren't sustainable: "household earnings are falling in real terms, consumer borrowing is at levels only seen in the lead up to the last financial crisis and it can not continue forever".

"Despite the drop in retail sales, it would be unwise to peg a consumer slowdown on one month's figures alone, which can be affected by random events like the weather, or a big sporting event on the telly".

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