UK retail sales shook off Brexit fears to have a huge month in February

Christmas shoppers on Oxford Street carry full shopping bags on December 17, 2013 in London, England.Bethany Clarke / Stringer / GettyChristmas shoppers on Oxford Street carry full shopping bags on December 17, 2013 in London, England.

LONDON — UK retail sales had a huge month in February, confounding the forecasts of economists who had predicted stuttering growth in the month, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

On a month-to-month basis, sales grew by 1.4% in February, while on an annual basis, sales grew by 3.7%. Both numbers were significantly worse than had been expected by economists polled in the run up to the data.

Prior to the release, economists had forecast month-on-month sales growth of 0.4%, with the yearly figure expected at 2.6%.

“February’s retail sales figures show fairly strong growth, though the underlying three-month picture shows falling sales as February’s figures follow two consecutive months of decline in December and January. The monthly growth in February is seen across all store types. The underlying trend suggests that rising petrol prices in particular have had a negative effect on the overall quantity of goods bought over the last three months,” Kate Davis, a senior statistician at the ONS said.

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