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UK retail sales fall at fastest rate since 2017 in December - CBI

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By Reuters
UK retail sales fall at fastest rate since 2017 in December - CBI
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk along Oxford Street, in London, Britain December 15, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo   -   Copyright  Simon Dawson(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – Britsh retailers have suffered a slump in sales this month, with spending for the time of year the weakest since 2011, the Confederation of British Industry said on Thursday.

The figures chime with downbeat sales figures from major retailers and other surveys pointing to weaker consumer sentiment ahead of Brexit, but contrast with unexpectedly upbeat official data for November released earlier in the day.

The CBI said its headline retail sales balance plunged to -13 in December from +19 in November, well below all forecasts in a Reuters poll and its lowest reading since October 2017.

A separate measure, that looks at retail sales for the time of year, sank to its lowest since November 2011, recording a sharper hit than when unusually icy weather wracked British high streets in March this year.

“It’s clear the sector continues to feel the impact from pressures on household incomes and digital disruption. Brexit uncertainty may also be affecting consumer sentiment and spending,” CBI economist Anna Leach said.

Online sales continued to perform solidly, she added.

The data is based on a survey of 45 retail chains conducted between Nov. 26 and Dec. 14.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Michael Holden)