October 26, 2017 / 11:56 AM / a year ago

UK retail sales slide in October at fastest rate since 2009: CBI

Two shoppers sit with their bags on Oxford Street in London, Britain, September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

LONDON, (Reuters) - British retail sales plummeted in October at the fastest pace since early 2009, when Britain was last mired in recession, a Confederation of British Industry survey showed on Thursday.

The CBI’s monthly retail sales balance slid to -36 from September’s two-year high of +42, marking its lowest level since March 2009.

The reading was far below even the lowest forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, most of whom expected a reasonably modest slowdown in growth.

While the CBI survey is volatile month-to-month, the three-month average balance for reported retail sales sank to -1 from +18 in September.

“It’s clear retailers are beginning to really feel the pinch from higher inflation,” said Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist.

“While retail sales can be volatile from month to month, the steep drop in sales in October echoes other recent data pointing to a marked softening in consumer demand,” she added.

The Brexit vote in June 2016 led to a big fall in the value of sterling, which has pushed up inflation, gnawing at consumers’ disposable income this year.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken

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