Retail sales in the UK fell by 0.2% in June from the previous month as food and household goods sales declined during the month. The unexpected fall confounded estimates that sales would rise by 0.4%. The annual rate fell to 4% from 4.7%, against estimates it would rise to 4.8%. On the positive side, May’s figure was revised upwards, with the month-on-month change revised to 0.3% from 0.2%. Excluding fuel, sales were also down by 0.2%.
On a quarterly basis, retail sales slowed to 0.7% in the three months to June, versus 0.9% in the three months to March. But the underlying trend is expected to remain strong for the rest of the year as consumers benefit from rising wages and historically low inflation.
The main weakness in June came from household goods such as furniture and appliances, which dropped by 0.9% month-on-month. Food sales were also lower but clothing and footwear was a bright spot, with sales climbing by 0.8% over the month.
The weak figures reversed the pound’s earlier gains in the day against the dollar. Sterling had climbed to 1.5669 dollars before the data on expectations that they would be in-line with estimates and support the Bank of England’s growing hawkish stance. But the surprise fall in sales dampened any expectations that the Bank of England might act and raise rates before the end of the year as against in early 2016.
The pound fell as low as 1.5583 against the dollar before recovering to 1.5610. The euro also took advantage of sterling weakness and climbed to 0.7048 in mid-European session. The pound had reached an 8-year high against the single currency in recent days after BoE Governor, Mark Carney, repeatedly hinted that interest rates may have to rise by year end.
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