Retail sales in Great Britain rise in August for fourth consecutive month

Retail sales in Great Britain rose in August for the fourth consecutive month, helped by demand for home improvement goods, signalling that consumers continued to support the economic recovery through the summer.

The volume of retail sales in Great Britain rose 0.8 per cent in August compared with the previous month, data from the Office for National Statistics showed on Friday.

This was marginally higher than the 0.7 per cent expected by economists polled by Reuters.

However, August’s volume of goods sold in stores and online was 2.8 per cent larger than in the same month last year, the fastest annual increase since October 2019 and 4 per cent higher than in February, before the lockdown.

“Retail sales continued to grow, further surpassing their pre-pandemic level,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy ONS national statistician for economic statistics.

August’s small increase marked an expected slowdown compared to the immediate post-lockdown rebound; the monthly growth was much lower than the 3.6 per cent recorded in July.

Spending for home improvements continued to rise in August as sales volumes within household goods stores increased by 9.9 per cent compared with February.

In contrast, sales in clothing stores were still 15.9 per cent below February’s pre-pandemic levels.

After the lockdown, retail sales in Great Britain showed a stronger performance than many other sectors, recovering to their pre-pandemic levels in July as consumers spent money on goods — such as sporting equipment and food — instead of services, including going to gyms and restaurants.

Retail sales are the first official economic data for August and the monthly expansion supports the view that the UK economic recovery continued into the summer, helped by the government’s discounted dining out scheme.

In the US, August’s retail sales growth also slowed by 0.3 percentage points to a monthly rate of 0.6 per cent.

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