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Retail sales surprisingly pick up in UK

Staff Writer |
UK retail sales unexpectedly rebounded in September as strong growth in food spending counterbalanced weather-weakened clothing sales.

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The monthly 'monitor' survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG showed total sales values picked up 1.3% year-on-year, slightly ahead of the three-month average of 1.0%.

Like-for-like retail sales values recovered to grow 0.4% in September from the decline of 0.9% in August, ahead of the consensus for a fall of 0.3%.

But the retail lobby group was cautious of the challenges that lie ahead as the fragile pound adds to import costs and economic uncertainty abounds around Brexit.

"While this month's sales figures may add to the impression that Brexit impacts have been brushed off, it is still too early to judge as we have not yet navigated the roughest waters," said Rachel Lund, head of retail insight and analytics at BRC.

She said reports of businesses' reluctance to invest could slowly feed through to consumers and hurt their spending power.

"We are also likely to see some upward pressure on prices as we move into 2017 as retailers increasingly feel the impact of exchange rate movements, although the level of competition in the industry may mean increases are more muted than implied by the scale of the devaluation," Lund said.

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