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UK consumer spending continues to fall

By Ramla Soni

In the fourth quarter as a whole, volumes fell by 1 per cent, their worst performance since early 2017

UK consumers did not increase their spending in December for a record fifth month in a row, with monthly sales falling by 0.6 per cent from November.

Sales in monthly terms have not risen since July, the longest run since records began in 1996, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Annual growth in retail sales volumes dropped to 0.9 per cent, and the ONS also lowered its estimates for sales in November.

In the fourth quarter as a whole, volumes fell by one per cent, their worst performance since early 2017.

All sectors except household goods stores and fuel saw a decline in the quantity bought for the three-month on three-month movement, driven mainly by non-food stores at negative one per cent, the ONS said.

The quantity bought in food stores fell by 1.3 per cent for the monthly growth rate, which was the largest fall since December 2016.

This year’s December survey period ran from November 24 to December 28, including the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales promotions and the December 12 UK election which saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson win.

The ONS figures are likely to effect the rate decision next week from the Bank of England which is considering whether to cut borrowing costs.

In November and December two out of nine policymakers voted for a cut and three others have said lower borrowing costs might be needed soon.

FURTHER READING: US markets resilient but consumer confidence down in US and UK

FURTHER READING: UK car sales expected to slump to eight-year low in 2020

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