High street sales continue to climb
Friday 18 June 1999
The Treasury yesterday said consumer confidence was buoyant. It rejected a report from MPs on the Treasury committee which had said there were downward risks to the Budget growth forecast. "The latest evidence points to a strong pick-up in the housing market and further strengthening of consumer confidence," the official response said.
The volume of retail sales climbed 1 per cent in May, according to yesterday's figures, and the underlying trend in sales growth continued to improve from the winter low. In the three months to April sales were 1.9 per cent higher than the same period a year earlier.
Clothes and shoes did best during the month, helped by a combination of falling prices and warmer weather. Volumes in this category leapt 2.7 per cent although they were at virtually the same level as a year earlier.
Sales of household goodsrose 1.5 per cent in the three months to May, reaching a level 7.5 per cent higher than a year earlier.
The unexpected strength of the figures sent the financial markets into a dither, reining back hopes that the Monetary Policy Committee could now cut interest rates once again.
Some economists argued a further move would be justified by low inflation. Retail price figures earlier this week showed headline inflation falling to a six-year low and the target measure declining significantly below 2.5 per cent.
Others said it was the strong pound that was helping tame inflation. "Price discounting helps, but the figures are showing there is a strong desire to purchase on the part of consumers," said Neil Parker, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland.
The pound ended unchanged at 104.8 against a basket of currencies yesterday. Currency markets are contemplating the prospect that if the Bank of England cuts rates while the US Fed raises them, UK and US interest rates might soon be equal for the first time in 15 years. Analysts say this would make a sharp fall in the pound likely.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure'
Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
Oscar de la Renta dead: Legendary US fashion designer dies after long cancer battle aged 82
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
Super-sized ships arrive in Britain: How big can they get?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...
£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...
£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...