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U.K. October Retail Sales Decline as Shoppers Rein in Spending

U.K. October Retail Sales Decline, Shoppers Rein in Spending
Food-sales growth slowed to the weakest in four months. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

U.K. retail sales fell in October, suggesting a “worrying” weakness in demand from shoppers as the economic recovery falters, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Sales at stores open at least 12 months, measured by value, fell 0.6 percent from a year earlier, the London-based trade group said in an e-mailed report today. Sales of furniture fell the most since September 2010 and food-sales growth slowed to the weakest in four months.

“This is evidence of the basic weakness of consumer confidence and demand and worrying this close to Christmas,” BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said in a statement. “It’s clear customers are cutting back whatever they’re buying.”

The National Institute for Economic and Social Research said last week that the U.K. economy faces a 50 percent risk of slipping back into recession. Consumer confidence has weakened as inflation outpaces wage growth, the government cuts spending and the escalating crisis in the euro area threatens the economic outlook.

The BRC report showed that in the three months through October, food sales rose 1.8 percent on the year on a like-for-like basis, while non-food sales fell 1.8 percent.

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