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