UK retail sales down 0.3 pct monthly in February amid extreme weather

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LONDON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Britain's retail sales fell by 0.3 percent in February on a monthly basis, with a range of retailers reporting the negative effect of extreme rainfall weather on sales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Thursday.

Despite the coronavirus outbreak, the ONS said that the data completed by Feb. 29 is largely unaffected by the coronavirus, with a small number of retailers suggesting that "online orders shipped from China were reduced because of the impact of COVID-19."

"The Met Office also stated that the country experienced a record amount of rainfall for the month of February, which was also the fifth-wettest calendar month in a series since 1862," said the ONS.

Data showed that in the three months to February, the quantity bought in the retail sales industry dropped by 0.6 percent when compared with the previous three months, recording the fourth consecutive monthly decrease.

When compared with the same month a year earlier, retail sales growth remained flat in February, hitting the lowest year-on-year growth rate since March 2013.

Meanwhile, online sales as a proportion of all retailing was 19.6 percent in February 2020, up from the 19.1 percent reported in January 2020, said the ONS.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, an economics forecasting group, said that "February 0.3 percent fall in UK retail sales volumes indicates consumers remained cautious in their spending even before coronavirus became a factor, despite the marked pick-up in confidence following the December election." Enditem

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