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    Retail sales slide as cost-of-living bites

    Photo: iStock

    Britain on Friday published retail sales data that added to its economic gloom and offered no respite for the government, which suffered fresh vote setbacks overnight.

    Retail sales slid 0.9 per cent in September, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

    “Retail sales fell notably in September, with retailers telling us that cost-of-living pressures are influencing consumers, particularly for sales of non-essential goods,” added ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

    “It was a poor month for clothing stores as the warm autumnal conditions reduced sales of colder weather gear,” he added.

    The often-volatile retail sales had grown 0.4 per cent in August.

    Looking at the quarterly picture, sales volumes fell by 0.8 per cent in the three months to September 2023 when compared with the previous three months.

    Food stores sales volumes rose by 0.2 per cent in September, following a rise of 1.4 per cent in August. However, volumes fell by 1.3 per cent in the three months to September from the previous three months, and when compared with their pre-pandemic February 2020 levels, food stores sales volumes were down 3.7 per cent.

    Non-food stores sales volumes fell by 1.9 per cent, and online retail sales volumes by 2.2 per cent in September.

    A separate survey showed consumer confidence plunging in Britain.

    GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index slumped nine points to minus 30 in October, the level seen in July last year.

    “This sharp fall underlines that the cost-of-living crisis, and simply not having enough money to make ends meet, are still exerting acute pressure for many consumers,” said Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK.

    Official data this week showed British annual inflation remaining elevated, prolonging the cost-of-living crisis and stoking fears that UK interest rates could stay higher for longer.

    The Consumer Prices Index held at 6.7 per cent last month, the highest level in the G7 grouping of rich nations.

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