U.K. retail sales increased on month in January after contracting at the year end, suggesting consumer spending entered the year on a stronger footing even as high inflation continued to squeeze Britons’ purchasing power.
Retail sales volumes rose 0.5% in January from the previous month, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday, beating the 0.2% rise expected from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.
In December, retail sales fell by a revised 1.2%, compared with the 1% drop previously estimated. Sales volumes have declined in four of the last six months.
Nonfood stores sales volumes rose by 0.6% in January after a 2.5% fall in December, with retailers reporting growth was supported by sales promotions, the ONS said. However, sales volumes at food stores fell by 0.5% on month, reflecting the increased cost of living, it said.
U.K. retail sales aren’t expected to improve significantly in the short term given the current squeeze in households’ incomes driven by inflation and rising interest rates, economists say.
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