UK retail sales declined for the fourth straight month in August, the longest stretch of fall on record, data from the Office for National Statistics showed on Friday.
Retail sales including auto fuel dropped unexpectedly by 0.9 percent month-on-month after declining 2.8 percent in July. Sales were forecast to climb 0.5 percent.
Sales marked the longest stretch of declines since the comparable data began in 1996. At the same time, excluding auto fuel, the retail sales volume decreased 1.2 percent following a 3.2 percent drop in July. Economists had expected an increase of 0.5 percent.
Food store sales dropped 1.2 percent and non-food store sales were down 1 percent in August. Meanwhile, automotive fuel sales were up 1.5 percent as people continued to increase the amount they travel.
ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics said the drop in food stores' sales is linked to an increase in eating out following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
On a yearly basis, retail sales remained flat versus July's 1.9 percent increase and the expected growth of 2.5 percent.
Sales excluding auto fuel were down 0.9 percent, offsetting the 0.9 percent increase in July. Sales were expected to advance 2.5 percent.
The data suggest that the economy did not regain much momentum in August after growing by just 0.1 percent month-on-month in July, Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said. But a rise in non-retail spending will probably prevent GDP from declining.