Aug. 16 - Retailers reported an unexpected rise in sales in July and higher than earlier thought sales in June, boosting hopes that consumer spending will help lift the economy out of recession. Hayley Platt reports.
After one of Britain's wettest summers on record a ray of sunshine for retailers. Sales in July rose 0.3 percent despite predictions of a fall. Summer discounts helped entice shoppers to spend more than they did last month. The ONS also revised up its estimates for sales in June, showing a monthly rise of 0.8 percent. George Buckley from Deutsche Bank says the numbers are encouraging but warned it may not last. SOUNDBITE: George Buckley, Chief UK Economist Deutsche Bank, saying (English): "If you look at the numbers in July itself, excluding fuel it was flat, it wasn't excessively strong. We did have that upward revision to the back month so almost 3.5 percent the rate of growth to retail sales is a good number that is encouraging for the third quarter you will get a big bounce largely because of the rebound we're going to get from the post Jubilee effect." Britain's economy has been shrinking since 2011 as the UK government presses on with its package of austerity. Many households have seen their budgets squeezed and wages frozen. Last month the Bank of England voted to extend its program of quantitative easing but that ends in November. SOUNDBITE: George Buckley, Chief UK Economist Deutsche Bank, saying (English): "Do they cut rates do they decide to add more QE to the mix, a lot's going to depend on upon Europe and if we start to see more volatility creep in September October when a lot of events are happening in Europe then that could cause the Bank to air on the side of caution and do more at the moment we don't think they will." London's West End may have resembled a ghost-town at the start of the Olympic Games, but after a slow start, shoppers and tourists came out in force. It's too early to say what impact that will have on August retail sales but London will be hoping to capitalise on the Olympic legacy for many years to come. Hayley Platt, Reuters.