UK retail sales surprise with 1 pct January gain

Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Official data shows that retail sales in Britain rose nearly 1 percent in January, contrary to market expectations of a decrease.

The Office for National Statistics said Friday that both the volume and value of sales increased 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis since December, while analysts had expected a drop of 0.3 percent.

Household goods stores saw the value of sales rise by 4 percent and fuel sales were up 8.5 percent.

Stores which deal mainly in food, which account for 42 percent of the retail market, reported a drop of 0.3 percent both in volume and value.

Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight, said shoppers may have been responding to January bargains and it remains to be seen whether the spending boost continues.

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