Retail sales in UK drop 1.8% last month
Retailers in Great Britain registered a first quarterly drop in volumes in more than three years, as the benchmark index calculated by the Office for National Statistics lost 1.4% in the three months through March, an update revealed on Friday. The decline more than offset the gain of 0.9% from the previous comparable period. The three-month negative change slightly eased from the rate recorded for the period from December through February. In March alone, retail sales fell 1.8%, reversing a jump of 1.76% registered in the prior month. The move was revised moderately higher.
The year-over-year growth dropped by two percentage points from the previous month, to 1.7%, while the core gauge, which excludes fuel, grew 2.6% in the past 12 months, against 4.1% in the last report. When the volatile item is taken out, consumers purchased 1.5% less month on month, after the measure advanced 1.6% or 0.3 points more than in the initial reading.
The average store price moved 0.6% higher from February, cooling growth from 1.3%. However, the three-month rise of 1.3%, compared to just 0.8% from the three months starting with November. On an annual scale, they jumped 3.3%, the most in five years, led by gas stations. Online sales slightly slowed annual growth, from 20.6% to 19.5%, compared to a upwardly revised 15% in January.