Wednesday, 8 December 2021

British retail sales slow in July

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LONDON: British retail sales growth slowed broadly as expected in July after a strong second quarter, as shoppers cut back on purchases of most goods other than food, adding to worries about a fall in consumer demand caused by higher inflation.

Year-on-year retail sales growth dropped to 1.3 percent in volume terms, down from 2.8 percent in June, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday, a shade lower than the 1.4 percent rise forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.

Looking at the three months to July as a whole, which smoothes out monthly volatility in the data, annual sales growth was the weakest since November 2013 at 1.8 percent.

“The relatively weak retail sales figures out today point to a continuing trend of subdued growth, as consumers feel the pinch following the rise in inflation costs,” said Yael Selfin, chief economist at accountants KPMG.

A separate survey by market research company Nielsen showed the highest proportion of households in two years tried to save money through tactics such as switching to cheaper grocery brands.

Rising inflation has eaten into British consumers’ disposable income this year, causing the weakest first quarter for retail sales since 2010, as the fall in the pound after last year’s Brexit vote pushed up the cost of imports.

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