Shoppers continue to look past Brexit uncertainty as retail sales trend upwards

  • ONS releases latest data for retail sales in the UK — a key measure of consumer spending.
  • Sales fell on a monthly basis in September, dropping 0.7% compared to the previous month.
  • The longer term trend, however, is one of growth, the ONS says.

LONDON — Retail sales in the UK slipped in September, but the broader trend continued to show solid growth, the ONS said on Thursday.

Sales excluding fuel grew by 1.6% on a year-on-year basis, the ONS said, down from 2.4% in August, and below forecasts, which predicted 2.4% growth.

On a monthly basis sales were down by 0.7% compared to August.

However, the three month trend, which is less volatile than monthly data, continued to be one of growth, the ONS said.

“September’s retail sales saw a monthly decline of 0.8%, reversing August’s growth. However, there is a continuation of the underlying trend of steady growth in sales volumes following a weak start to the year, and a background of generally rising prices,” Kate Davies, a senior statistician at the ONS said.

“These increased costs are reflected in the more rapid growth in the amount spent when compared with the quantity bought.”

“The underlying pattern in the retail industry is one of growth,” the ONS said in its release, noting that on a three-month by three-month basis, sales grew by 0.6%.

Here’s the chart of retail sales over the longer term:

Prices continued to rise in September, the ONS said, reflecting growing inflation thanks to the increased cost of importing goods, brought on by the depreciation of the pound since the Brexit vote.

“Store prices continue to rise across all store types and are at their highest year-on-year price growth since March 2012 at 3.3%,” the ONS’ release said.

Consumer price inflation (CPI) hit 3% in September, its highest level since early 2012, the ONS said earlier in the week.

CPI measures the weighted average of prices of a basket of goods and services, such as food, transportation, and medical care.

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