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U.K. Retail Sales Fall Most in 16 Months as Food Demand Plunges

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. retail sales fell the most in 16 months in May as demand for food and drink declined, according to an index by the Confederation of British Industry.

A gauge of annual sales growth dropped to minus 11, the lowest since January 2012, from minus 1 in April, the London-based lobby group said today. Economists had forecast an increase to 3, according to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Retailers expect the volume of sales to return to growth in June, the report showed.

Higher energy prices and weak wage growth have helped to curb consumer spending. Data earlier this month showed that expenditure by households rose just 0.1 percent in the first quarter, the least since the third quarter of 2011.

“Most sub-sectors reported flat or falling sales over the year, with only furniture and carpets and recreational goods seeing strong growth,” the CBI said. Still, “a narrow balance of retailers again expect the overall business situation to improve over the next three months, with three quarters expecting conditions to remain stable.”

A gauge of the volume of orders placed with suppliers dropped to minus 25 in May from minus 12 in April. A measure of sales volumes for the time of year rose to minus 17 from minus 27. A three-month moving average of sales slipped to minus 6 from minus 4.

In a separate quarterly survey, the CBI said a gauge of retailers’ investment intentions dropped to minus 23 in May from minus 7 in February. That’s the weakest since February 2012. The quarterly view of the current business situation fell to 10 from 12.

The CBI’s survey of 69 retailers was conducted between April 24 and May 15.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Hamilton in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at

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