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UK retail sales slow down, raising fears for economic outlook

By Ramla Soni

Food stores the only sector to see growth, as monthly volumes fall and trend fails to match expectations

UK retail sales in the three months October rose at their weakest pace since April 2018, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed, adding to fears that the economy is losing momentum.

Monthly volumes were unexpectedly down 0.1 per cent for both the amount spent and quantity bought. Both the amount spent and the quantity bought in October were up by 3.3 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively compared with a year earlier, below forecasters’ expectations .

Food stores were the only main sector to see growth (0.8 per cent) in the three-month on three-month comparison, but were the largest negative contributors to the amount spent slipping 0.2 percentage points.

The quantity bought in October 2019 fell by 0.1 per cent when compared with the previous month, with only fuel and department stores reporting growth.

Meanwhile year-on-year growth in the quantity bought increased by 3.1 per cent in October 2019, with growth across all sectors except household goods stores.

Online sales increased to 19.2 per cent in October 2019, from the 19.0 per cent reported in September 2019.

“These latest ONS figures are symptomatic of the challenges facing the retail sector after a year fraught with uncertainty,” said Lynda Petherick, head of retail at management consultants Accenture told Reuters.

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