British retail sales fall unexpectedly
Retail sales in Britain fell for the first time since January last month, official data showed on Thursday.
The unexpected drop of 0.5 percent compared with a rise of 0.8 percent in July, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. July's figure was revised down after an initial reading had shown a jump of 1.1 percent.
The ONS added that retail sales climbed 0.4 percent in August compared with 12 months earlier.
Market expectations had been for a monthly gain of 0.3 percent and a year-on-year increase of 0.2 percent in August, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires.
The data, which came a day after an unexpected rise in British unemployment, weighed on the London stock market and British pound. Analysts said consumers were showing caution before a round of major spending cuts by the government.
"The unexpected 0.5 percent fall in retail sales in August is a nasty shock and deals a significant blow to growth hopes," added Howard Archer, economist at the IHS Global Insight consultancy.
"Indeed, it will likely fuel fears of a double dip (recession), given the importance of consumer spending to the economy and the fact that the fall in sales were broad-based in August."
© 2010 AFP