British retail sales were flat in late December and early January, according to a survey that offered mixed news about the state of the consumer economy ahead of Thursday's Bank of England decision on interest rates.
The Confederation of British Industry's monthly retail sales gauge was steady at zero in January, a month in which it has usually declined over the last decade.
For the three months to January, the CBI's measure of retail sales was the strongest in a year.
Still, retailers cut orders with suppliers as stocks of goods built up, the CBI said.
The figures are likely to interest BoE rate-setters as they weigh up whether to cut interest rates, just as other business surveys point to a pickup in the economy.
"Both official data and business surveys are painting a picture of subdued activity for retailers. A challenging Christmas has extended into the New Year, with little expectation of any improvement soon," CBI deputy chief economist Anna Leach said.
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