• Retail sales drop in first annual fall since 2013

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    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures that show that UK retail sales fell by 0.3 per cent in October compared to the same period in 2016 – the first annual fall since 2013.

    The ONS has put it down to a strong performance in October 2016, but also said that higher inflation may have dampened spending, with economists also citing unusually mild weather hampering sales.

    Sales in October rose 0.3 per cent from September, with sales 0.9 per cent higher during the August-October period than in 2016.

    “Unseasonably mild weather – average temperatures were 1.7C above their 1970-to-2016 October average – was likely the main driver of the 1.5 per cent month-to-month decline in clothing sales,” commented Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

    “Retail sales volumes recovered only partially from September’s 0.7 per cent month-to-month drop, underlining that consumers now have adopted a cautious mindset,” added Tombs.

     Kate Davies, statistician at ONS, said: “We are continuing to see an underlying picture of steady growth in retail sales, although this October suffered in comparison with a very strong October in 2016.”

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    Stuart O'Brien

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