Feb 10, 2015
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UK retail sales growth accelerates in January

Feb 10, 2015

LONDON, United Kingdom - British retail spending accelerated last month as shoppers splashed out more than usual in the January sales, while food sales rose for the second month in a row, an industry survey showed on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said retail spending was 1.6 percent higher this January than a year ago, following a 1.0 percent year-on-year rise in December.

Photo: Confederation of British Industry - Confederation of British Industry

The survey was the latest to suggest Britain's consumers are becoming more willing to spend after a recent end to years of falling real incomes, and that they will continue to be the driving force behind the country's economy -- the main battleground for May 7's national election.

"The clothing, toys and household appliances sectors particularly benefited from this spending spree, notching up year-on-year growth against tough comparables from the year before," said David McCorquodale, at survey sponsor KPMG.

But he added that retailers have been caught in a "difficult cycle", with demand driven almost solely by discounts.

"This promotion-led environment risks becoming the new normal -- retailers are struggling to persuade consumers to break the habit and go back to the traditional sales cycle."

Retail spending on the BRC's like-for-like measure -- which excludes new stores and more closely reflects how stores report sales to shareholders -- rose 0.2 percent on the year, compared with a 0.4 percent decline in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast faster growth of 0.5 percent.

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