UK Retail Sales Decline Worse Than Expected


UK retail sales declined more than expected in August as the cost of living crisis weighed on consumer spending, official data showed Friday.

The retail sales volume declined 1.6 percent month-on-month, in contrast to July’s revised 0.4 percent increase, the Office for National Statistics reported. Economists had forecast a moderate 0.5 percent decline.

The monthly fall in sales volumes was the strongest so far this year and joint largest fall since July 2021 when all legal restrictions on hospitality were lifted.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales were also down 1.6 percent after rising 0.4 percent in July. Sales were expected to ease 0.7 percent.

All the main sectors, namely food stores, non-food stores, non-store retailing and fuel declined over the month.

Non-food stores sales volumes dropped 1.9 percent because of falls in each of its sub-sectors. Food stores sales decreased 0.8 percent largely due to increased food prices.

Automotive fuel sales volumes dropped 1.7 percent, following a rise of 0.3 percent in July.

Data showed that the proportion of retail sales online fell to 25.7 percent in August from 26.3 percent in July.

On a yearly basis, retail sales decreased for the fifth straight month in August. Sales decreased 5.4 percent, following July’s 3.2 percent fall. Economists had forecast an annual drop of 4.2 percent.

At the same time, sales excluding auto fuel slid 5.0 percent versus a 3.1 percent decrease in the previous month. This was also faster than economists’ forecast of -3.4 percent.

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