Retail sales growth in January misses forecasts

by Ben Pena February 17, 2018, 9:23
Retail sales growth in January misses forecasts

Close Brothers Retail Finance managing director Alex Marsh added: "January discounts helped sustain retailers' sales after a disappointing end to previous year".

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK retail sales throughout January edged up 0.1 per cent, the slowest rate of growth in six months.

United Kingdom retail sales grew only modestly in January, having posted a steep drop the previous month, new figures showed Friday, signaling weak consumer spending continued to weigh on the largely domestic-driven economy.

However, when compared to January 2017, consumer spending in January 2018 increased by 1.6%.

The UK retail sales rose mere 0.1 percent over the month in January after disappointing -1.5 percent m/m drop in December.

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Eager people on get-fit regimes as the New Year kicked off helped the figures, with sales of sports equipment and gym wear rising 10.6 per cent, but a slowdown in food sales dragged overall numbers down. "This can partly be attributed to a background of generally rising prices", said ONS senior statistician Rhian Murphy. Declines were seen throughout all main sectors except non-food stores.

The ONS figures tallied with findings for January retail sales, published earlier this month by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which highlighted a "tough trading environment" with sales and profits "harder to come by". Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.5 per cent.

Friday's data is further confirmation that the underlying pattern in retail sales "is one of slow growth", said the ONS.

"Meanwhile, we expect earnings growth to trend up gradually as a outcome of recruitment difficulties in some sectors and higher inflation fuelling some increased pay awards". 'This means we could see an end to falling real wages in the coming months, which would provide a welcome fillip to cash-strapped households.

Taking to account improved inflation forecast the Bank of England now expects that "monetary policy would need to be tightened somewhat earlier and by a somewhat greater extent over the forecast period than anticipated at the time of the November Report, in order to return inflation sustainably to the target".

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