British retail sales stagnate as shoppers cut back on groceries

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British retail sales unexpectedly stagnated in March as a contraction in food and online purchases offset growth at clothing stores and petrol stations.

The quantity of goods bought in Great Britain was unchanged between February and March following a revised 0.1 per cent increase in the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

The zero growth was lower than a 0.3 per cent expansion forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

In the three months to March, retail sales were up 1.9 per cent compared with the previous three months, rebounding after a poor end to 2023.

Commenting on the figures, ONS senior statistician Heather Bovill said: “Retail sales registered no growth in March. Hardware stores, furniture shops, petrol stations and clothing stores all reported a rise in sales.

“However, these gains were offset by falling food sales and in department stores where retailers say higher prices hit trading.”

This is a developing story

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