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UK Retail Sales Rise Less Than Expected In December

UK retail sales recovered in December but the pace of growth was much slower than expected, data released by the Office for National Statistics showed Friday.

The retail sales volume gained 0.3 percent month-on-month, reversing a 4.1 percent decline seen in November. However, the pace of growth was weaker than the economists forecast of +1.2 percent.

Sales increased by 2.7 percent from the February's pre-lockdown level.

Clothing stores reported strong monthly growth of 21.5 percent, rebounding from a large fall in November, when stores were closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

Excluding auto fuel, the retail sales volume gained 0.4 percent on month, in contrast to a 3 percent fall in November. Sales were forecast to gain 0.8 percent.

On a yearly basis, retail sales growth improved to 2.9 percent from 2.1 percent in November. Economists had forecast an annual growth of 4 percent.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales were up 6.4 percent, faster than the 5.3 percent rise logged a month ago but slower than the 7 percent increase economists' had forecast.

In 2020 as a whole, retail sales volume decreased by 1.9 percent, marking the largest annual fall on record.

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