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MNI DATA IMPACT: UK Consumer Falters at the Start of Q4>

By Laurie Laird and Irene Prihoda
     LONDON (MNI) - UK retail sales fell sharply in November, raising 
questions over whether consumer spending can continue to prop up the 
wider economy. 
     The following are the key points from retail sales data 
published Thursday by the Office for National Statistics.
     - Retail sales fell by a more-than-expected 0.6% in November, the 
fourth straight month without an increase, the longest stretch of 
weakness since comparable records began in 1996.  
     - Weak retailing activity could raise concerns amongst policy 
makers, as consumer spending has served as the most stable prop to the 
economy while business investment has faltered. However, members of the 
Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee were not aware of the latest 
retail data when considering interest rates earlier this week, according 
to an official.  
     - Retail sales are poised to exert a negative influence on gross 
domestic product in the fourth quarter. Volumes would have to increase 
by 1.5% between November and December for sales to match the level of 
the third quarter. Sales have not increased by such a large magnitude 
since November of 2018.  
     - Despite the volatility of November sales data over the past 
several years, National Statisticians expressed confidence that their 
seasonal adjustment techniques sufficiently capture the vagaries of 
Black Friday promotions and sales volumes. 
     - Household goods sales rose by 1.2% between October and November, 
the only sector to record an increase, boosted by promotional activity. 
The deflator for household goods stores declined by an annual pace of 
0.2% for the second straight month. However, the sales slumped by 4.5% 
on an annual basis, the fifth straight year-on-year fall. 
     - Retail sales rose by just 0.4% on a rolling three-month basis, 
the smallest rise since December of last year and increased by an annual 
rate of 1.0%, the slowest pace since April of 2018.  
     - Internet sales increased by an annual rate of 2.6% in value 
terms, the smallest increase since records began in 2008. That took the 
share of online transactions to 18.7%, the lowest ratio since December 
-London bureau: 44 (0) 203 865 3812; email:

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