UK Retail Sales Stronger Than Expected

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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LONDON--U.K. retailers sold more than expected in June and produced the strongest increase in sales in a calendar quarter for almost 10 years, official data showed on Thursday.

U.K. retail sales volumes rose 0.1% from May and were 3.6% higher than in June last year, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists were expecting a slight dip in sales on a monthly basis, according to a Wall Street Journal survey last week.

Sales over the three months to the end of June were 4.5% higher than they were over the same period last year, the strongest growth for a calendar quarter since the final three months of 2004.

Although retail sales only account for 5.7% of U.K. economic output, the figures may help cement expectations that the first estimate of second quarter gross domestic product growth due on Friday will be solid.

Economists are expecting a repeat of the 0.8% increase in GDP on the quarter and 3.1% growth on the year seen in the first three months of the year.

The ONS said all the broad retail sectors that it measures registered an increase in sales in June compared with the same month last year, the first time that has happened since March 2012.

On a monthly basis the figures were mixed, as food stores increased sales but non-food sales fell. However, even where sales weakened there were signs of growing confidence, with clothing retailers feeling comfortable enough to raise prices for the first time in June since 2007, the ONS said.

Write to Nicholas Winning at nick.winning@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires


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