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Sales within the UK retail market fell by more than had been forecast in October, as shoppers cut back spending on food and clothing products, meaning the market suffered its biggest slump in sales volumes for six months.
Sales including fuel dropped 0.8% from September, when they gained a revised 0.5%, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The median forecast of 23 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 0.1% decline. Food, which accounts for about 41% of UK retail market sales, declined 0.6%.
Analysts had expected a fall in October of about 0.2%, and the steeper decline may add to worries about economic growth following Wednesday's Bank of England warning about the UK recovery.
Clothing sales, which account for about 12% of total retailing, plunged 2.3% in October from the previous month. Sales of clothes had surged 1.9% in September due to a boost from school uniforms. From a year earlier, total retail sales were up 0.6% in October.
Today's numbers aren't terribly positive as far as the fourth-quarter gross domestic product goes," said David Tinsley, an economist at BNP Paribas SA in London.
"There is a reasonable chance that the fourth-quarter release will show the economy slipping backwards. That will raise the political heat for the government amidst talk of the economy triple dipping."
Retailers will now be looking to the key Christmas period to boost sales. A survey by the CBI business group late last month reported that retailers expected a pick-up in sales in November.
For more information on the UK retail market, see the latest research: UK Retail Market
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