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UK retail sales plunge in Feb as snow deters shoppers

British retail sales plunged in February as snowy weather and economic gloom kept consumers away from the shops, official data showed today.

The Office for National Statistics said sales fell 1.9 percent in February, nearly five times the 0.4 percent fall expected by analysts.

That took the annual rate of growth to just 0.4 percent -- its weakest since September 1995 and well below forecasts for 2.5 percent.

The ONS said sales fell across the board last month. A major factor was the snowy weather at the start of the month which brought much of Britain to a standstill. The economic downturn also played a part in making consumers reluctant to spend.

The fall in spending coincided with a small pick-up in prices as seasonal discounts came to an end. Prices rose 0.3 percent on the year, after a 0.9 percent fall in January.


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