UK retail sales dip as consumers, freed from locked down, dine out

Retail sales fell 1.4% between April and May, the Office for National Statistics said

  
Shoppers walk past social distancing signs at the Covent Garden shopping and dining district, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, August 2, 2020.

Shoppers walk past social distancing signs at the Covent Garden shopping and dining district, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain, August 2, 2020.

REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON - British retail sales fell unexpectedly last month as a lifting of lockdown restrictions encouraged spending in restaurants rather than shops, according to official data.

Retail sales fell 1.4% between April and May, the Office for National Statistics said.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to an 1.6% month-on-month increase in retail sales volumes for May.

Food stores suffered the biggest hit.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests the easing of hospitality restrictions had an impact on sales as people returned to eating and drinking at locations such as restaurants and bars," the ONS said.

In annual terms, retail sales were 24.6% higher than last May, short of the median expectation for a 29.0% increase.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce Editing by William Schomberg) ((andy.bruce@thomsonreuters.com; +442075423484; Reuters Messaging: andy.bruce.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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