Britain's economy slowed sharply in the first three months of 2017 as higher inflation, boosted by last year's Brexit vote, hurt retailers and other consumer-focused businesses. Sarah Charlton reports.
Britain feeling the pinch of rising inflation - boosted by last year's Brexit vote. The UK economy slowing sharply in the first three months of this year. Gross domestic product slumping to 0.3 percent, down from 0.7 in the last quarter of 2016. Much of the downturn is due to Britain's services sector, which makes up nearly 80 percent of the economy (SOUNDBITE) (English) INDEPENDENT MARKET ANALYST, JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, SAYING: "As 2017 progresses, my sense is that UK economic activity is going to remain pretty subdued. Indeed, one could argue that the UK economy did quite well to avoid an outright contraction over Q1." Last year's Brexit vote making things worse, causing a big fall in the value of sterling. That impact beginning to eat into the wallets of consumers - resulting in retailers and hotels bearing the brunt of a lack of spare cash. British finance minister Philip Hammond says the economy remains resilient. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UK FINANCE MINISTER, PHILIP HAMMOND, SAYING: "Britain's economy is forecast to grow at 2% this year. Employment is at record highs and it's set to go higher still. The British economy is resilient." But Friday's figures are the clearest sign so far that the country is slowing in the run-up to June's early election. And many expect the downturn to continue.