Retail sales take a tumble

20 August 2004
UK retail sales fell last month, according to figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (cebr).

Except for household goods and other non-food stores, all retail sectors were affected, with overall sales falling by 0.4 per cent.

Monthly retail sales growth rates are often volatile and on a quarter-to-quarter basis the seasonally adjusted index for retail sales at constant prices was 1.8 per cent higher than in the February to April period.

However, some analysts believe this may be the first sign that UK consumers have started to react to interest rate rises by the Bank of England.

In recent years July has been notorious for presenting a budget surplus and negative net borrowing in UK public finances figures. Therefore, the cebr said, the figures were "not surprising".

The cebr felt that the data could "calm the markets, indicating that the UK consumer boom may be finally over" and that the Bank of England "will not have to continue raising interest rates aggressively".
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