British retail sales grew more slowly in July, data shows, as shoppers cut back on non-essential spending and budgeted for the higher price of food following the Brexit vote. As Sonia Legg reports, a shortage of staff for British employers also worsened in July, hurt by the departure of EU workers after last year's Brexit vote.
Britons love a bit of competition as the hen racing championships in the Peak District proved at the weekend. But there's one race they're starting to lose. While its European neighbours see signs of recovery Britain's economy is at risk of becoming a non-starter. Latest data from the British Retail Consortium showed sales grew more slowly in July - the 0.9 percent increase down by a quarter on the previous month. (SOUNDBITE) (English): CRAIG ERLAM, SENIOR MARKETS ANALYST, OANDA, SAYING: "The retail sales figures suggest exactly what we've seen signs of over the course of this year and that's that the consumer is continuing to be squeezed. Real incomes are negative and when we see this trend forming then we do tend to see this translate to lower retail sales maybe not immediately." Food sales grew by 2.3 percent between May and July - but mainly because of rising prices. Non-food items shrank by 0.7 percent. It can all be traced back to Britain's vote to leave the EU. So too can a shortage of staff for British employers. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation said availability suffered its biggest fall last month in a year and half. (SOUNDBITE) (English): CRAIG ERLAM, SENIOR MARKETS ANALYST, OANDA, SAYING: "There certainly seems to be a link between this and Brexit. It has materialised since Brexit. We have seen a number of people leaving the UK who've gone back to the EU since Brexit increase quite dramatically. Companies are having to pay more to attract the right people." That could be good for wage growth. But the government is likely to come under increasing pressure from companies not to chicken out of tackling the skills shortage and getting the economy back to winning ways.