UK retail sales drop unexpectedly for the fourth month
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Retail sales in Britain unexpectedly contracted for the fourth consecutive month in August, raising concerns about the pace of the economic recovery in the UK.
Britain’s monthly retail sales volume fell 0.9% between August and July, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. It was much worse than the 0.5% expansion predicted by economists polled by Reuters and followed a sharp contraction in July.
Sales edged down in June, according to downward revised figures, and contracted in May, marking the longest period of sales decline since comparable data first became available in 1996.
Retail sales are the first official economic data for August and the unexpected drop raises concerns about the pace of economic recovery in the UK after stagnating growth in July.
Food store sales volumes fell 1.2% in August, with evidence easing hospitality restrictions impacted sales as people increased social spending, eating and drinking in restaurants and bars.
Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said the data suggests that “the drop in food store sales is linked to an increase in dining out following the lifting of restrictions on coronaviruses “.
Non-food stores were down 1%, led by contractions in department stores and other stores, such as sports equipment and computer stores.
In contrast, automotive fuel sales volumes increased 1.5% as people traveled more.
Compared to February 2020, before the first restrictions, sales were still up 4.6%.
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