Rise in retail sales fails to lift outlook for struggling high street, analysts say

City A.M. Reporter
SALES of laptops and video games gave a surprise lift to British retail sales in September, supporting hopes that the economy posted at least some growth in the third quarter, without changing an overall dire outlook.

The Bank of England has warned of a tough winter ahead, predicting that growth will be close to zero in the last three months of the year. It has also launched a fresh round of asset purchases in a bid to help the ailing British economy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday that sales volumes rose 0.6 per cent on the month, but added that sales in August fell more than it had previously estimated.

Compared to a year ago, sales volumes also grew by 0.6 per cent.

Analysts, who had forecast flat sales on the month and an annual rise of 0.7 per cent, voiced doubt over whether sales would remain strong.

“I think it’s unlikely to stay this robust, but the importance of these figures is what it tells us about third quarter GDP, and that is that it will probably be reasonably solid,” said Alan Clarke, economist at Scotia Capital.

“We expect the trend in retail sales volumes to remain roughly flat in the coming year,” added Citigroup.