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October 23, 2009

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British retail sales flat

RETAIL sales in Britain were flat in September compared to the previous month, with food store sales dipping slightly, as consumers remained cautious amid the economic downturn, official figures showed yesterday.

The September figure nevertheless represented a 2.4 percent improvement compared with the same month a year earlier, despite a 0.1 percent month-to-month decline in sales at food stores.

For the three months to September, sales were 1.8 percent higher as food sales more than compensated for a drop in other retail categories, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Sales by supermarkets and other stores primarily dealing in food were up 4.5 percent in the three months to September compared to a year ago.

Sales in other stores fell 1.6 percent, the agency said. In September, however, nonfood stores reported a 1.1 percent gain compared to a year ago.

Analysts said the figures were disappointing.

Howard Archer, chief European economist at Global Insight, said consumer spending may have been diverted to buy cars, encouraged by government-backed discounts for scrapping older cars.


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