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UK shoppers shrug off Brexit blues

Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 01:41

Shoppers in Britain shrugged off June's shock Brexit vote as retail sales jumped by much more than expected last month. As Hayley Platt reports, it added to signs that there has been little immediate hit for consumers.

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British shoppers shrugged off the uncertainty of the Brexit vote - or so it seems. The latest retail sales figures smashed expectations with a rise of 5.9 percent. It's the biggest rise since last September and far stronger than the 4.2 percent forecast. It's also some of the first hard economic data to be released since the vote. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "The weather had improved. There have been very keen price reductions in the shops, so prices in shops overall fell in the month and of course we've had loads of overseas tourists who've come and found the prices and looked at the exchange rate and realised that actually London and England generally and the UK is rather cheap." The positive figures follow Wednesday's jobs data which showed a surprise fall in July unemployment. But is doesn't mean the economic fears over Brexit are unwarranted. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "What is probably going to happen in my view, is that we're going to see something like what we saw in the financial crisis in 2008 which is that people were kept in jobs, but quite often at lower wages or certainly not increasing wages. So real disposable incomes will be falling." Business sentiment and consumer morale will need to be watched closely. Some surveys have already showed confidence slipping. And the Bank of England has added to the gloom by halving its forecasts for household spending over the next two years because of Brexit uncertainty. It sees spending growth of just 1 percent next year as lower growth in wages and higher inflation squeeze spending power.

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UK shoppers shrug off Brexit blues

Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 01:41