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Retail sales in Britain slide in September

Oct. 21, 2010 at 3:36 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Retail sales fell for the second consecutive month in Britain, falling 0.2 percent in September following a 0.7 percent drop in August, the government said.

Sales at clothing and shoe stores dropped 0.8 percent, while Internet and catalog sales dropped 0.5 percent. Grocery store sales rose slightly, up 0.1 percent, The Guardian reported Thursday.

"The second successive fall in retail sales in September is surprising and particularly worrying given the importance of consumer spending to the economy," said economist Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight.

"Indeed, it can only fuel fears that the recovery is faltering markedly and it increases pressure on the Bank of England to revive quantitative easing in addition to keeping interest rates down at 0.5 percent for an extended period," he said.

The drop is especially worrisome to some, given the government's austerity budget calls for the sales tax to rise in January from 17.5 percent to 20 percent, which will likely dampen sales further.

"Overall, a disappointing month again. In the context of the monetary policy committee, not so long ago the MPC minutes were optimistic on the outlook for the consumer. That must have suffered a setback … contributing another baby step closer to another round of quantitative easing," said economist Alan Clarke at BNP Paribas.

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