October 19, 2017 / 8:47 AM / a year ago

RPT-UK annual retail sales growth slows to weakest since 2013 in Q3

 (Repeats with no changes to text)
    LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) -
British retail sales suffered an unexpectedly sharp slowdown in
September, dragging quarterly growth to its weakest annual rate
since 2013, suggesting consumer demand remains uncertain as the
Bank of England nears its first rate rise in a decade.
    Retail sales volumes fell 0.8 percent in September, the
Office for National Statistics said on Thursday, reversing a
jump in August and undershooting all economists' forecasts in a
Reuters poll. Third-quarter growth slowed to a year-on-year rate
of 1.5 percent, its lowest since the second quarter of 2013.
     Last month the BoE said it was likely to raise interest
rates in the coming months if the economy and inflation
pressures strengthen as expected. Markets see a roughly 80
percent chance of a move on Nov. 2 after the BoE's next meeting.
    Its policymakers had said consumer demand was showing signs
of improving after weakness earlier in the year, though it was
too soon to tell if it would compensate for weak business
    Rising goods prices meant that the amount British shoppers
was spending was rising faster than the volume of goods they
received for their money.
    "There is a continuation of the underlying trend of steady
growth in sales volumes following a weak start to the year, and
a background of generally rising prices," ONS statistician Kate
Davies said.
    Compared with a year earlier, sales volumes are up 1.2
percent versus expectations of a 2.1 percent rise.
    Rising inflation has eaten into British consumers'
disposable income this year, causing a very weak first quarter
for retail sales as the fall in the pound after last year's
Brexit vote pushed up the cost of the imports. 
    Official data on Wednesday showed that regular pay in the
three months to August was 0.4 percent lower in real terms than
in 2016 - the sixth consecutive month of falls and the longest
such run in almost three years.             
    Some shoppers are tightening their belts, as industry data
on Tuesday showed the market share of Britain's four biggest
supermarkets falling in response to growing sales at German
discount chains Aldi and Lidl.             
    Relatively cheap online fashion retailer ASOS          also
revised up growth forecasts on Tuesday, in part due to stronger
demand after it froze its prices despite higher import costs
following last year's fall in the pound.             
    Private-sector figures had given a fairly upbeat message on
retail spending in September. The Confederation of British
Industry reported the strongest growth in two years, while the
British Retail Consortium said spending grew last month at a
faster pace than for most of 2017.                          
    The BoE expects inflation to peak at just over 3 percent in
October, compared with 3.0 percent in September, and then fall
 (Reporting by David Milliken and Alistair Smout)

 (Reporting by Andy Bruce)
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