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UK retail sales unexpectedly increase

Staff Writer |
UK retail sales unexpectedly jumped last month, with increases across all sectors except food and clothing.

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Retail sales in August rose 0.3% month on month, when they had been forecast to fall by the same amount, while the Office for National Statistics revised July's sales up to 0.9% from 0.7%.

August sales therefore were up 3.3% compared to the same month last year, well ahead of the 2.2% gain expected, while July's gain was revised up to 3.8% from 3.5%.

Online sales grew to represent 18.2% of all retail sales in August.

Excluding fuel sales, which fell, retail sales climbed 0.3% on on the month and 3.5% on the year, versus expectations of a 0.2% fall and 2.4% rise respectively.

"Retail sales remained strong in the three months to August, with continued growth across all sectors," said ONS head of retail sales, Rhian Murphy. "Food and household goods stores particularly benefitted from the warm weather when compared with last summer."

"The figures for the month of August were a little more mixed, with food sales falling after strong sales earlier in the summer and clothing sales declining following a strong July, as suggested by clothing retailers."

Household goods enjoyed their largest monthly jump in sales since May 2016.

The quantity of food sales fell 0.6% month-on-month while clothing sales volumes dropped 1.9%, offset by strong growth in other non-food stores at 2.8% and household goods stores at 4.5%.

Despite the travails of House of Fraser and Debenhams, the ONS reported strong growth in department stores, reaching a record proportion of total sales at 18.4%.

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