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Retail

U.K. Retail Sales Fall 0.9% In Month Of Brexit Referendum

U.K. retail sales had their biggest drop in six months in June, adding to signs that the vote to leave the European Union is starting to bite.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online dropped 0.9 percent, more than the 0.6 percent decline seen in a Bloomberg survey of economists, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday. Sales excluding auto fuel also fell a larger-than-expected 0.9 percent.

The statistics office carried out its monthly survey between May 29 and July 2, meaning some responses were received in the week following the June 23 Brexit referendum. A gauge of consumer confidence fell at the fastest pace in 21 years after the vote.

Consumer spending has driven the economy to more than three years of uninterrupted growth, but Britain may now be increasingly reliant on exports as the sharp fall in the pound over the past month makes British goods more competitive on world markets.

Bank of England policy makers have signaled they are preparing to add stimulus in August. Economists in a Bloomberg survey expect gross domestic product to fall by 0.1 percent in each of the third and fourth quarters, marking the first recession since 2009.

Pound Falls

The pound erased earlier gains, falling 0.2 percent to $1.3186 as of 9:48 a.m. London time.

Food sales fell 1.2 percent, while non-food sales dropped 0.8 percent. Sales at department stores dropped 1.6 percent and clothing and footwear retailers saw sales decline 1.8 percent.

In a separate report Thursday, the ONS said the budget deficit narrowed more than forecast to 7.8 billion pounds ($10.3 billion) in June from 10 billion pounds a year earlier, thanks to a jump in income tax receipts. It left the deficit in the fiscal first quarter at 25.6 billion pounds, down from 27.9 billion pounds a year earlier.

Still, the fallout from Brexit is expected to hit tax receipts in the coming months. Prime Minister Theresa May has said the government has not abandoned its goal of returning the public finances to surplus, but is no longer seeking to do so by the end of the decade. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is due to present new forecasts later this year.

News by Bloomberg, edited by ESM. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.

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