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UK August retail sales record unexpected 0.9% fall

UK retail sales volumes fell 0.9% in August from July and unchanged year on year, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

Analysts had forecast a 0.5% rise from July and year-on-year growth of 2.7%. Retail sales had risen 2.4% annually in July. However, August retail sales were 4.6% above pre-virus levels.

Food store sales volumes fell by 1.2% with some evidence to suggest that the further easing of Covid-19 hospitality restrictions had an impact on sales as people increased their social spending such as eating and drinking at restaurants and bars, the ONS said.

Non-food stores reported a fall of 1.0% in sales volumes, driven by falls in department stores (-3.7%) and other stores, such as sports equipment and computer stores (negative -1.2%).

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 1.5% as more people used their cars, however, they remained 1.2% below their pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.

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