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U.K. Retail Sales Surge as Consumers Defy Brexit Turmoil
Thursday, 18 April 2019 15:55 WIB | ECONOMY |Retail SalesUK Retail Sales

U.K. retail sales unexpectedly increased for a third consecutive month in March, underlying the resilience of consumers in the face of Brexit uncertainty.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online jumped 1.1 percent from February, the Office for National Statistics said Thursday. Sales excluding auto fuel increased 1.2 percent. Both measures had been expected to show a decline.

It means retailers made a positive contribution to the economy in the first quarter, with sales rising a respectable 1.6 percent from the final three months of 2018. That added 0.09 percentage point to growth, according to the ONS.

Record employment and rising real incomes are helping to underpin consumer spending, the largest part of the economy. In contrast, businesses are cutting spending, fearing an economic slowdown could turn into a slump if the U.K. ends up leaving the European Union without a deal to cushion the blow.

Retail sales excluding fuel last saw a longer run of gains in early 2016. But the annual pace of growth was inflated by poor figures in March 2018, when Britain was hit by snow and freezing temperatures. Overall sales leaped 6.7 percent from a year earlier in March, the fastest pace since October 2016, and were up an annual 5 percent in the first quarter.

Statisticians said warmer weather last month encouraged spending, with food sales also recovering after a weak February. Clothing and household goods posted strong gains, only partly offset by weaker sales at department stores.

Non-store retailing, predominantly online operators, saw sales jump by 4.2 percent on the month and by a massive 23 percent on the year. Food sales rose 1.1 percent from February.

The retail sales survey was carried out between Feb. 24 and March 30.

Source : Bloomberg

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