Retail sales just smashed forecasts and the pound is popping

LONDON — October retail sales smashed expectations on Thursday, with monthly growth coming in at 1.9% against a forecast of just 0.4%.

Annually consumer sales in Britain jumped a huge 7.4%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, beating forecasts of a 5.4% increase in goods shifted. It is the biggest annual growth recorded since April 2002.

Brits spent £30.8 billion in the 4 weeks of October, 2.1% more than in September and a 6.6% increase on the amount spent in October 2015.

All shops bar department stores benefited from an uptick in sales in October, the ONS said, and the bulk of the growth came from increased sales of clothing, shoes, and textiles.

The ONS says:

“The underlying pattern in the retail industry continues to show strong growth with the 3 month on 3 month movement in the quantity bought increasing by 1.9%; this is the 34th consecutive period of 3 month on 3 month growth.”

The figures represent a big acceleration from September’s figures, which showed not monthly sales growth despite hopes of a back to school bounce and annual growth of 4.1%. However, September’s figures were also revised up slightly on Thursday, with monthly growth of 0.1% and annual growth now pegged at 4.2%.

The pound popped against both the dollar and the euro when the figures were announced at 9.30 a.m. GMT (4.30 a.m. ET):

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