UK Shoppers Buck the Retail Trend

20 September 2004

In a surprising reversal of fortune, UK retail sales have bucked the trend and shown a rise in August.

The death of the British shopper has apparently been reported prematurely as sales increased by 0.6 per cent, in defiance of poor summer weather and analysts' predictions of a 0.3 percent fall.

The figures, reported by the Office for National Statistics, have prompted speculation about a further interest rate rise before the end of the year, in contrast to some forecasts that the Bank of England would not need to raise rates above their current 4.75 percent.

Says economist Howard Archer of financial analysts Global Insight: "The relatively strong rebound in retail sales volumes in August, after July's drop … reinforces our belief that the Bank of England will still raise interest rates by 0.25% in November."

Philip Shaw of bankers Investec admits the figures are 'staggering' and says: "We still think rates will be on hold for the rest of the year, but we are somewhat less confident than before the data."

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