LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales fell unexpectedly last month, according to official data indicating that at least some consumers were more focused on England’s progress at Euro 2020 rather than shopping.
Retail sales volume fell 2.5% in July from June, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A Reuters poll of economists had indicated that July sales rose by 0.4 percent on a monthly basis.
The Office for National Statistics said retailers said the Euro 2020 edition – which saw England reach the final – and bad weather kept shoppers out of stores in July.
Food store sales fell 1.5%, while sales of non-food products fell 4.4%.
However, sales are up 5.8% compared to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels in February 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In a possible sign of renewed caution among shoppers following a spike in COVID cases, as well as bad weather in the UK for most of July, the Office for National Statistics said online sales rose to 27.9% of total spending after dropping to their lowest level in June.
Separate data showed that the UK government’s debt in the first four months of the 2021/22 financial year was 26 billion pounds ($35.43 billion) less than the estimate made by the Office for Budget Responsibility in March.
(dollar = 0.7339 pounds)
(Written by William Schomberg, edited by Andy Bruce, translated by Jose Muñoz)