U.K. retail sales surged unexpectedly in June as consumers spent more in grocery stores to celebrate European championship soccer, adding momentum to the economic recovery. The volume of goods sold in shops and online rose 0.5% from the month before, the Office for National Statistics said Friday. Economists had expected a 0.1% drop. The figures followed an unprecedented jump in April when most stores were allowed to fully reopen for the first time since January.
The figures feed the debate about the strength of Britain’s recovery from 17 months of restrictions to control the virus. Pent-up consumer spending has driven up prices across the economy, lifting inflation above the Bank of England’s target for the first time in almost two years in each of the past two months. Policy makers led by Governor Andrew Bailey are considering whether to pare back their stimulus as soon as next month.
Sales in food stores bounced back in June, making the largest contribution to the increase after a sharp decline in May when consumers shifted spending to newly-reopened restaurants. England’s soccer team made it to the final on July 11 in the month-long contest. The team’s performance brought people into streets and back gardens to celebrate, since restrictions limited capacity in pubs.
U.K. Retail Sales Surged With Spending for Soccer Matches, Bloomberg, Jul 23