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UK Retail Sales Recover; Budget Deficit Widens

UK retail sales recovered at a faster than expected pace in May driven by non-food store sales and the budget deficit reached a record high amid high expenditure, official data showed Friday.

Retail sales volume increased at a pace of 12 percent on month, in contrast to an 18 percent decrease in April, the Office for National Statistics reported. Sales were forecast to climb 5.7 percent.

Similarly, sales volume excluding auto fuel, advanced 10.2 percent versus a 15 percent fall a month ago and economists' forecast of 4.5 percent.

Non-food stores provided the largest positive contribution to the monthly growth in May, aided by a strong increase of 42.0 percent in household goods stores.

Retail sales including auto fuel, declined 13.1 percent on year, following a 22.7 percent decrease in April. This was slower than the 17.1 percent decrease economists' had forecast.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales dropped a slower pace of 9.8 percent after declining 18.5 percent in the previous month. Economists had expected an annual fall of 14.4 percent.

In a separate communiqué, the ONS said the budget deficit widened to a record high in May.

Public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks, totaled GBP 55.2 billion, roughly nine times or GBP 49.6 billion more than in May 2019. This was the highest borrowing in any month on record began in 1993.

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