Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

U.K. Retail Sales Slump Most in Four Years After Brexit Vote

  • CBI says its index dropped to the lowest since January 2012
  • U.K. consumer confidence plunged in aftermath of referendum

U.K. retail sales fell at the fastest pace in more than four years in July, signaling caution among consumers after the Brexit vote last month.

The Confederation of British Industry said its monthly retail sales index dropped to minus 14 -- the lowest since January 2012 -- from 4 in June. A gauge of the outlook showed stores anticipate a similar decline next month.

The London-based group said weaker consumer confidence was a “likely factor” after Britain opted to leave the European Union on June 23. A post-referendum survey by GfK reported consumer confidence plunged the most in 21 years following the vote.

“While conditions in the retail sector have weakened, we should be careful about reading too much too soon, as consumers were likely to err on the side of caution in the immediate period following a vote to leave the EU,” said Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist.

The survey of 132 firms also showed a fallout in the wholesale sector, with sales volumes falling the most in three years. Companies expect the weakness to persist into August, according to the report.