Retail sales rise 3.7% in February

John Lewis at St Pancras International station London retail
UK's retail sector defies doom and gloom as sales increase sharply in February
Author

25 March, 2017

"February's retail sales figures show fairly strong growth, though the underlying three month picture shows falling sales", ONS statician Kate Davies said.

Rising fuel and food prices pushed inflation beyond the Bank of England's 2% target in February, hitting its highest level since September 2013, according to separate figures released earlier this week.

Shoppers spent an estimated £1bn a week online with United Kingdom retailers during February, according to official figures out this week.

"As a result, with credit conditions remaining supportive, and consumers' confidence in the outlook for their own finances still quite strong, we expect overall household spending to slow this year, rather than collapse outright", Hollingsworth said.

Sales rose across the board, with household goods increasing 3.7% and clothing growing 1%.

Food store sales edged up 0.1 percent and non-food store sales climbed 1.8 percent in February after easing 0.3 percent each in January.

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Online sales were a big driver of the increase, climbing "year-on-year by 20.7% and by 3.3% on the month, accounting for approximately 15.3% of all retail spending".

"The latest United Kingdom retail sales figures will provide some reassurance that higher inflation has not brought growth in consumer spending to a halt", said Paul Hollingswoth of Capital Economics.

Retail sales in the three months to February recorded their biggest drop in nearly seven years as rising petrol prices cut into households' disposable income.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg had been looking for a much more modest 0.4 percent rise in February, after a revised drop of 0.5 percent in January.

"With consumers now seemingly moderating their spending, the long anticipated slowdown in the economy looks set to materialise unless other sectors can make significantly increased contributions".


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