Aug 11, 2015
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UK July food sales soggy after BBQs rained off - BRC

Aug 11, 2015

LONDON British retail spending grew at a slower annual rate in July after recording some of the fastest growth in two years the month before, as wet weather caused Britons to put barbecue plans on hold.

The British Retail Consortium, an industry body, said retail spending increased by 2.2 percent year-on-year last month -- near its long-run average -- after rising 2.9 percent in June.

Food sales suffered a rare fall after wetter weather than in 2014 knocked spending on barbecue items, but spending on furniture and other household goods grew strongly, which the BRC attributed to a continued rise in house prices.

"As the labour market continues to improve and real wages show strong growth, it's no surprise our extra disposable income seems to be being spent on more discretionary purchases," BRC Director General Helen Dickinson said.

On a like-for-like basis -- a measure favoured by retail analysts as it strips out changes in floorspace -- spending in July grew by 1.2 percent year-on-year, down from 1.8 percent in June but slightly above a Reuters poll forecast of 1 percent.

Consumer spending has been the main driver of Britain's economic recovery, but last week the Bank of England said business investment was playing an increased role. Overseas demand for British exports remains weak, causing some economists to worry whether growth is sustainable.

Official retail sales data for the three months to June released last month showed the weakest annual spending growth in more than two years.

The Office for National Statistics collects data from a wider range of retailers than the BRC, whose members are mostly larger retailers.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce)


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