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British retail sales dropped more than expected in March -- and it is a worrying sign for the economy

LONDON — UK retail sales declined significantly in the three months to the end of March, signalling further trouble for Britain’s consumer sector, according to data from the Office for National Statistics on Friday morning.

On a three-month basis, sales dropped 1.4%, marking what the ONS called “the third consecutive decrease for the underlying 3 month on 3 month pattern.” On a month-to-month basis, sales dropped more than forecast, slipping 1.8%, compared to an expected 0.2% fall.

“Today’s retail sales figures show a decline on the month and on the three months to March, which coincides with quarter 1 in 2017. This is the first time we’ve seen a quarterly decline since 2013, and it seems to be a consequence of price increases across a whole range of sectors,” Kate Davies, a senior statistician at the ONS said.

Here is the ONS’ chart showing the data as part of the longer term trend:

March retail salesOffice for National Statistics

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