UK Retail Sales Growth Doubled Expectations Last Month

24 November 2003

English, Scottish and Welsh consumers continued to spend, spend, spend for Britain during October, confounding expectations of a slowdown in retail activity and giving rise to fears of an inflationary trend.

Retail sales grew at double the expected rate during October, increasing by 0.6% on September and 3.7% year-on-year.

Leading the field were department stores and non-food outlets, posting a 1.6% rise in sales. But at the other end of the cash register spectrum, the textile, clothing and footwear sectors were hit by a 0.5% decline in sales - perhaps inevitable after September's strong performance in the sector.

The Office for National Statistics also revised upwards its retail sales figures for September. These are now inked-in at 0.7% month-on-month growth compared with the previous estimate of 0.6%.

All of which -- combined with the continuing increase in house prices -- is giving rise to fears that that the Bank of England's interest rate committee may raise interest rates again after the increase earlier this month to 3.75%.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff