United Kingdom retail sales surge as consumers ignore Brexit and keep shopping

Employment rate remains at a joint record high

Employment rate remains at a joint record high

Office for National Statistics released the UK Retail Sales data that came out better-than-expected of 1.1% compared with forecast -0.3%.

At 0800 GMT sterling was down 0.1 percent against the dollar at $1.3023 and flat against the euro at 86.54 pence.

Retail sales volumes surged by the most in almost two-and-a-half years in annual terms, leaping by 6.7 percent, the Office for National Statistics said.

Retail sales grew 1.1 percent month-on-month in March, after a 0.6 percent rise in February.

Accountancy firm Deloitte said on Monday that large British-based businesses were increasingly focused on cashflow as they anxious about the long-term economic hit from Brexit.

Official figures show that inflation in Britain unexpectedly held steady in March, with economists suggesting that Brexit uncertainty prompted retailers to keep prices lower than would otherwise have been the case.

"It is possible that the avoidance of a "no deal" Brexit at the end of March could provide a modest boost to the housing market through easing some of the immediate uncertainty and concerns", said economist Howard Archer from consultancy EY ITEM Club.

Chilly temperatures and rain returns Friday and Saturday
The bulk of the rain looks to fall during the second part of the day Saturday and then start tapering off early Sunday . The temperature will reach its peak of 17C by around 1pm and remain so throughout the rest of the afternoon.

The Pound to Australian Dollar (GBP/AUD) exchange rate was left to trade in a narrow range this afternoon, with the pairing stuck around AU$1.8170 after Sterling gave back its tentative gains from earlier in the session.

This uptick in spending is also made all the more impressive by the heightened Brexit uncertainty that hung over consumers last month, with shoppers still apparently willing despite the apparent threat of the United Kingdom crashing out of the EU.

The Bank of England has signalled that it will lift interest rates to tame inflationary pressures but it is highly unlikely to act until the Brexit process is resolved.

Higher motor fuel prices were offset by the falling cost of food and computer games last month.

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said on twitter that "today's ONS data shows inflation has stayed low and close to target, keeping costs down for families and businesses".

But economic data has failed to move the pound significantly in recent weeks as Brexit negotiations dominate the news agenda. As such the CPI data sits between yesterday's employment data (which pointed towards higher interest rates in due course) and tomorrow's retail sales numbers (which probably won't).

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