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British Retail Sales Beat Expectations in June

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - British retail sales rose more than expected in June, boosted by unusually hot weather and a rebound in food sales after a dip the month before when public holidays disrupted normal spending patterns, official figures showed on Friday.

Retail sales volumes in June were 0.7% higher than in May, the Office for National Statistics said, a bigger increase than the 0.2% forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.

Sales volumes were 1.0% lower than a year earlier, beating economists' forecasts for a 1.5% decline.

"Retail sales grew strongly, with food sales bouncing back from the effects of the extra bank holiday, partly helped by good weather, and department stores and furniture shops also having a strong month," ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said.

During May, households spent less at supermarkets - possibly because they were eating out more at restaurants due to an extra public holiday to mark King Charles' coronation.

Sterling jumped against the U.S. dollar after the data.

British households have been under pressure from surging inflation, which hit a 41-year high of 11.1% last year and was 7.9% in June, the highest of any major advanced economy.

ONS figures show that while the amount of money spent at retailers was 17.9% higher than in February 2020, just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of goods purchased was 0.2% lower, showing the impact of inflation on Britain's economy.

Food inflation has been especially high, with prices in June 17.4% above those a year earlier, not much below March's 45-year high of 19.2%, according to ONS data published on Wednesday.

Britain's competition regulator said on Thursday that high prices were not due to weak competition between supermarkets, after allegations of profiteering from some politicians, consumer groups and trade unions.

Industry body the British Retail Consortium has said that its measure of retail spending in June was 4.9% higher than a year earlier, with strength in barbecue food and garden furniture after the country's hottest June on record.

The ONS data showed a 7.8% annual rise in the value of retail sales excluding fuel.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Kate Holton and Andrew Heavens

Source: Reuters

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