British retail sales edge ahead in July

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British retail sales rose less than expected in July, official data showed Thursday, as falling demand for clothing, footwear and household goods was offset by a strong performance by food stores.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement that total retail sales volumes grew by 0.2 percent in July from the level in June, when they had risen by 0.8 percent.

Market expectations had been for a 0.4-percent increase in July, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Retail sales were unchanged in July compared with 12 months earlier, the ONS added.

Colin Ellis, chief economist at the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association in London, said consumers were tightening their belts before the introduction of large rises in the cost of domestic electricity and gas.

"Today's data suggest that households are still keeping a close eye on their spending, and with large rises in gas and electricity prices looming, consumer caution could be set to intensify in the months ahead."

© 2011 AFP

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