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DOES THE LATEST RETAIL SALES DATA MARK A RETURN TO GROWTH?

<strong>ALAN CLARKE </strong> BNP PARIBAS<br />Overall, consumer spending has probably troughed. Low mortgage payments have been helpful as has slowing inflation. However, with wage growth slowing, employment falling and consumers still cautious, we doubt that today's increase marks a return to rampant<br />spending growth.<br /><br /><strong>DAVID KERN </strong> BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE<br />This is positive news that supports our assessment that the worst phase of the recession is over. However, it is too early to talk about a sustainable recovery. Any modest sign of improvement must be nurtured at this stage. It is much too early to consider withdrawing the policy stimulus.<br /><br /><strong>MICHAEL SAUNDERS </strong> CITIGROUP<br />This is a strong rise in retail sales, which fits in with other signs that consumer spending is becoming less weak. But, with retail sales on clothing boosted by June&rsquo;s unusually hot weather &ndash; which has reversed in July &ndash; the retail sales figures probably overstate the pick-up in overall consumer spending.