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Sterling boost as UK retail sales surge beats predictions

The pound jumped yesterday after retail sales in the United Kingdom beat expectations, despite rising inflation.

It comes just days after it was announced that inflation in the UK crashed through the Bank of England’s 2pc target last month, pushed up by rising food and fuel prices.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that estimates of the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 3.7pc compared with February last year, and increased by 1.4pc compared with January past.

Online sales surged in particular, jumping 20.7pc year-on-year, and 3.3pc on the month. Online sales account for 15.3pc of all retail spending.

Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, said February’s retail sales figures show fairly strong growth, even though the underlying three-month picture shows falling sales as February’s figures follow two consecutive months of decline in December and January.

“The underlying trend suggests that rising petrol prices in particular have had a negative effect on the overall quantity of goods bought over the last three months,” Ms Davies said.

The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research said that despite retail sales bouncing back, the sector is set for a challenging year.
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