Slowing retail sales add to downturn fears
Thursday 20 August 1998
Other figures showed a collapse in business investment, down 5.5 per cent in the second quarter and only 1.5 per cent higher than a year earlier.
The data confirm that an economic slowdown is under way. Analysts said the figures were unlikely to alter interest-rate prospects as they did not support the case for either a rise or fall in rates.
The latest high-street figures showed that sales rose by 0.9 per cent in July. A rise was expected after retailers said June had been a poor month due to poor weather and the World Cup. In June sales fell by 1.5 per cent. The recovery in July was helped by discounting, and sales of clothing and footwear showed the sharpest rise, growing 6 per cent in July after a 9.4 per cent fall in June.
The erratic picture of recent months has not obscured the underlying trend which, says the Office for National Statistics, "still suggests a slowdown".
The best guide is the change in the latest three months compared with the same period a year earlier. This shows retail sales growth falling from 5.9 per cent last summer as consumers spent windfalls from converting building societies, to 3.2 per cent now. The rate has fallen continuously this year.
Geoffrey Dicks, economist at Greenwich NatWest, said little should be read into the July recovery, which was due to aggressive pricing in sales.
The figures on business investment add to the picture of a slowdown. The sharpest falls were in investment by public corporations and utilities. Investment spending is always lumpy and too much should not be read into one quarter's figures. But recent surveys from the CBI and British Chambers of Commerce have warned of a sharp decline in investment intentions. Compared with a year ago, business investment is up by just 1.5 per cent - the slowest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 1995.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...