Boost for GDP as retail sales bounce back

Ben Southwood
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RETAIL SALES climbed in September, data showed yesterday, defying their flat long-term trend.

Sales volumes grew 0.6 per cent between August and September, the Office for National Statistics said, after a 0.1 per cent fall between July and August. This means 2.5 per cent more goods are being sold than a year before.

The amount spent on this volume of goods increased 1.1 per cent into last month, according to the data, up from 0.2 per cent growth into August, so that seasonally adjusted sales values were 3.2 per cent higher than a year before.

Shehan Mohamed at the Centre for Economics and Business Research said the improvement in the figures suggested the UK was on its way back to GDP growth.

“Robust increases in retail sales in the past few months suggests consumer spending growth could be positive in the third quarter,” Mohamed said.

“We therefore could expect mildly positive growth in that quarter in our central case scenario,” he added.

Other data out yesterday suggested, contrary to usual experience, that London was doing worse than the country as a whole.

Domestic demand was weak in the third quarter, survey data from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed yesterday, as its domestic sales index dropped from minus three to minus 13.

But London remained confident, and business continued to rate their prospects for the coming year highly.