United Kingdom retail sales growth at slowest level in four years

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Separate data this week showed that regular pay in the three months to the end of August was 0.4 per cent lower in real terms than it was during the same period in 2016, meaning that August was the sixth consecutive month of falls for real wages. Economists had forecast a 0.1 percent fall for September.

Year-on-year retail growth for Q3 overall was 1.3 percent, which is the weakest rate of annual growth since Q2 in 2013.

The fastest online growth came, said the ONS, in the textile, clothing and footwear sector, where ecommerce sales grew by 39.1%, to account for 16.5% of all retail sales in the category.

The ONS said retail prices continued to rise across all store types and were up 3.3% from a year earlier, the highest year-on-year increase since March 2012. Meanwhile, the quantity of food bought decreased by 1.2% year-on-year, while the amount spent increased by 1.6%, largely due to the increase in average prices of 2.8%.

The value of pound fell immediately after the figures were released, with sterling down nearly half a cent to $1.3126, suggesting traders believe a rate rise next month is less likely.

United Kingdom retail sales fell more than expected last month, official figures confirmed on Thursday, further muddying the waters over whether the Bank of England will hike interest rates next month.

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"These latest figures will however give the Bank of England further food for thought when it comes to their impending decision on interest rates. On top of that the Bank could well find its credibility compromised if it fails to follow through on its recent hawkish commentary, and would once again be on the hook for providing "forward misguidance".

Average wages are rising by 2.1 per cent, according to the figures for July.

Bank governor Mark Carney has said rates could go up in the "relatively near term", with many analysts expecting a hike in November.

"However, it is true that things remain challenging for the retail industry". Consumers may also be anxious by indications that the BoE may well raise interest rates as soon as November.

"On one side, inflation is eating consumer's purchasing power, and in the other side, activity is slowing down in the retail sector". Once inflation is taken into...