UK retail sales had another horrible month in January, dropping by 0.3%, according to the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics on Friday.
On an annual basis, sales grew by 1.5%. 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 0.9%, with the yearly figure expected at 3.4%.
The poor results mark a second bad month for consumer spending in the UK after retail sales suffered their biggest drop since April 2012 in December, with ONS data showing sales volumes fell 1.9% year-on-year, widely missing economists’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 0.1% decline.
The weakness of the official figure also contrasted with positive trading updates issued by some of the biggest high street names in recent weeks.
Retail sales account for around 20% of GDP and household consumption has held up much better than many economists expected in the wake of the June Brexit vote. However, that honeymoon now seems to be ending, following consecutive bad months.
More follows …