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UK Retail Sales Stagnate In September

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UK retail sales stagnated in September as consumers were cautious about spending amid uncertainties surrounding Brexit, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed Thursday.

Retail sales volume, including auto fuel, was unchanged from the previous month, following a 0.3 percent drop in August. Sales were forecast to fall 0.2 percent.

The ONS said slight growth in food and non-food is offset by declines in non-store and fuel.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales volume climbed 0.2 percent, in contrast to a 0.3 percent fall a month ago. Economists had expected a 0.1 percent decrease.

Food store sales gained 0.6 percent and non-food store sales grew 0.4 percent. Meanwhile, auto fuel sales declined 2 percent.

On a yearly basis, the retail sales volume growth accelerated to 3.1 percent in September, in line with expectations, from 2.6 percent in August, driven by expansion across all sectors except department stores and household goods.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales advanced 3 percent after rising 2.2 percent a month ago. The annual growth was forecast to improve to 2.9 percent.

September's retail sales figures were perhaps a bit of a relief given the intense Brexit uncertainty, but were hardly a picture of strength, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

However, if a Brexit deal is indeed agreed soon, household spending growth should regain some pace, the economist added.

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