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UK retail sales fell more than expected in July as an unusually wet month hampered high street shopping, official statistics showed.

UK purchases of goods fell 1.2% in June-July, following expansion in the previous three months, ONS data showed on Friday.

That was much sharper than the 0.5% contraction forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

Grocery store sales fell 2.6% in July, with supermarkets reporting wet weather reduced clothing sales, but food sales also fell. Rising costs of living and food prices continue to weigh on sales, retailers said.

Sales at non-food stores fell 1.7% in July, with retailers reporting that the decline was due to bad weather that reduced foot traffic.

While consumer spending rose 1.1 percent from a year earlier, sales volumes were down 3.2 percent from July last year, reflecting the impact of high inflation on household finances.

Index 2019=100 line chart shows sharp decline in UK retail sales in July

Heather Bovill, deputy director of surveys and economic indicators at the ONS, said: “Retail sales fell sharply in July as severe weather affected most sectors.”

“It’s been a particularly bad month for supermarkets as the summer slump combined with rising living costs means sales of clothing and food are weak,” she said.

Sales at department stores and household goods also fell sharply.

Investec economist Sandra Horsfield said she expects consumers to “struggle increasingly under the burden of rising interest rates,” pushing the economy into a mild recession in the second half of this year and into 2024.


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