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UK Retail Sales Unexpectedly Fall In February

UK retail sales dropped unexpectedly in February, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed on Friday.

The retail sales volume dropped 0.3 percent month-on-month, in contrast to the 1.9 percent increase in January. Sales were forecast to climb 0.6 percent. Excluding auto fuel, retail sales volume decreased 0.7 percent, reversing the 1.7 percent increase a month ago. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent increase. Food store sales fell 0.2 percent on month with large falls in alcohol and tobacco stores, which may be linked to higher spending in pubs and restaurants. Meanwhile, non-food store sales advanced 0.6 percent, underpinned by the 13.2 percent rise in clothing and 1.3 percent increase in department store sales.

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose 3.6 percent in February as the lifting of Plan B restrictions in England at the end of January increased travel, data showed.

On a yearly basis, retail sales grew 7.0 percent but slower than the revised 9.4 percent increase logged in January and the expected 7.8 percent rise.

Similarly, annual growth in retail sales, excluding auto fuel, slowed to 4.6 percent from 7.5 percent in January. Sales were forecast to climb 5.6 percent.

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