Monday, July 4, 2022

UK sees record third-quarter retail sales growth on COVID rebound By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians pass a sale sign on a retail shop on Oxford Street in London

By David Milliken and Andy Bruce

LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales beat expectations last month and grew for a fifth month in a row, capping a record quarter of growth that took total sales volumes to 5.5% above their level before the pandemic.

Retail sales volumes grew by 1.5% in September alone and are 4.7% higher than a year earlier, taking the annual rate above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.

Strong household demand has been the mainstay of Britain’s recovery from the initial shock of the coronavirus lockdown, when output contracted by 20%, more than in any other major advanced economy.

Britain’s economy is set to record a rapid rebound for the third quarter, and Friday’s retail sales data showed a record 17.4% increase in sales volumes for the period.

However, rising coronavirus restrictions are hurting consumer morale and weighing on the broader economy.

“Total consumer spending will probably start to stutter over the next few months as the furlough scheme ends and unemployment rises, despite the increased generosity of the Job Support Scheme,” said Thomas Pugh of Capital Economics.

British consumer sentiment fell this month by the most since a slump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as lockdown restrictions tightened across much of the country, according to a long-running survey published on Friday.

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