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MNI DATA IMPACT: Robust UK Retail Sales Hint at Q1 Rebound>

By Les Commons and Laurie Laird 
     LONDON (MNI) - UK retail sales rebounded after a slowdown in the 
latter part of 2019, providing more evidence that the economy may be 
recovering modestly after stagnating in the final three months of last 
     The following are the key points from January retail sales data 
published Thursday by the Office for National Statistics.
     - Retail sales rose by 0.9% between December and January, the 
biggest rise since March 2019, outpacing the Bloomberg median forecast 
of a 0.7% gain.
     - Ex-fuel sales growth was even more robust, jumping by 1.6% in 
January, the strongest gain since May 2018. The January increase broke a 
streak of five consecutive months without ex-fuel growth, the longest 
stretch since records began in 1996.  
     - Stronger-than-expected sales, coupled with a robust Q4 jobs 
report and an uptick in inflation at the start of 2020, could reinforce 
the argument of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee's less 
dovish members they meet next month. 
     - Fuel sales plunged by 5.7% between December and January, the 
biggest fall in nearly eight years, as petrol prices rose by 2.3 pence 
a litre in the opening month of the year.  Retailers also cited an 
unusually-wet January as a dampener on motor fuel sales.  
     - January gains were broad-based, with clothing and footwear sales 
jumping 3.9%, the biggest rise since May 2018. Household good sales 
bucked the trend, declining 1.1%, the second straight fall. 
     - Weak retail demand at the end of 2019 kept three-month sales in 
the red, with volumes declining by 0.8% between November and January, 
the third straight rolling three-month decline.  
     - Internet sales rose by 0.9% when measured by value, reducing the 
proportion of online sales to 19.0% from 19.3% in December.   
     - Retail price pressures accelerated, with the implied deflator 
rising by an annual rate of 1.1%, the fastest pace since November 2018. 
Excluding a 4.5% jump in fuel prices, the deflator increased by 
0.7%, still the biggest rise since July. 
-London bureau: 44 (0) 203 865 3812; email:

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