UK Retail Sales Growth Tops Expectations

UK retail sales grew more than expected in March as the easing of the restrictions related to the coronavirus lifted consumer spending, the Office for National Statistics reported Friday.

Retail sales volume grew 5.4 percent month-on-month, faster than the 2.2 percent increase in February. This was the biggest growth since June 2020 and also better than the economists’ forecast of 1.5 percent.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales growth accelerated to 4.9 percent from 2.5 percent a month ago. The expected growth rate was 1.9 percent.

Non-food store sales provided the largest positive contribution to growth in March, with 10 percent monthly rise. At the same time, food store sales rose 2.5 percent.

On a yearly basis, retail sales advanced 7.2 percent, reversing February’s 3.6 percent decline and larger than expectations of +3.5 percent.

Similarly, sales excluding auto fuel grew 7.9 percent annually in March, in contrast to a 1 percent fall in the previous month and larger than the 4.5 percent rise expected by economists.

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