British retail sales drop as high interest rates hit shoppers

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British retail sales unexpectedly fell in October, fuelling concerns that high prices and interest rates are hitting households’ finances more than anticipated.

The quantity of goods bought in Great Britain declined 0.3 per cent in October compared with the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

This was much worse than the 0.3 per cent rise forecast by economists polled by Reuters, and followed a fall of 1.1 per cent in September.

The volume of retail sales was 2.7 per cent per cent below its level in October 2022, a much larger decline than the 1.5 per cent drop forecast by analysts, indicating that people are buying less as high prices and borrowing costs squeeze their finances.

Retail sales figures are the first official economic data released for October, giving an early sign of the health of the consumer sector.

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A fall in household spending contributed to the stagnation of the economy in the three months to September.

This is a developing story