Sunday, December 18, 2011

UK retail sales fall further than expected in November

UK retail sales fell more than economists forecast in November as cash-strapped households shunned price discounts and chose to save rather than spend as the prospect of another recession looms.

Sales including fuel fell 0.4pc from October, the Office for National Statistics said. The median forecast of 23 economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a 0.3pc decline. On the year, sales were up 0.7pc. Excluding fuel, retail sales fell 0.7pc on the month.

The figures underline the pressure being felt by consumers as wages fail to keep pace with inflation and concern mounts that the economy is following the crisis-stricken euro region into recession. Unemployment hit a 17-year high of 2.64m in the three months through October and is forecast to rise further next year.

“All in all, the picture for UK household consumption is not very encouraging,” said Annalisa Piazza, an economist at Newedge Group in London. “The labor market is extremely weak. Average earnings run at less than half the speed of inflation and consumer confidence hit record-low levels. We expect fourth-quarter household consumption to be a drag for GDP growth.”

The pound weakened after the report and was trading at $1.5468 as of 9:48 a.m. in London, little changed on the day. Read More