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UK retail sales take a tumble: official data

By AFP
media Wet weather in June led to many Britons delaying buying summer clothing AFP/File

British retail sales sank in May, official data showed Thursday, sounding a downbeat note on the Brexit-facing economy ahead of an interest rate decision from the Bank of England.

Sales by volume sank by 0.5 percent from April, when they had dipped by 0.1 percent, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

Volumes slid as volatile weather persuaded many Britons to delay the purchase of summer clothing, according to the ONS. The sizeable drop was in line with market expectations.

"The fall on the month was driven mainly by a 4.5-percent fall in clothing sales as unusually warm weather in April was followed by the reverse in May," noted Capital Economics analyst Andrew Wishart.

"That might have put people off from purchasing summer clothes. And with June being particularly wet, a big bounce back seems unlikely."

Later on Thursday, at 1100 GMT, the Bank of England is due to unveil the outcome of its latest monetary policy gathering.

Economists expect the BoE to maintain its key interest rate at 0.75 percent as UK inflation eases and amid ongoing concern over the economic impact of Brexit.

"The BoE (is) expected to keep policy on hold, and since the Brexit situation is still ongoing, the central bank will be restricted in what it can signal, as a lack of political clarity continues," noted CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

The decision comes one day after news that Britain's annual inflation has dipped to the BoE's 2.0-percent target rate.

 
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