'Reality check' for UK retail sales as growth slows in September - BRC

Reuters
A woman pays a market trader for goods in Soho's Berwick Street Market in central London
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A woman pays a market trader for goods in Soho's Berwick Street Market in central London May 17, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

LONDON (Reuters)- Growth in British retail sales slowed for a second consecutive month in September, industry data showed on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said the total value of retail sales was 2.4 percent higher in September than a year ago, the second-weakest reading this year.

Like-for-like sales, which strip out changes in floor space as retailers open and close outlets, rose 0.7 percent, less than half the rate of growth of the previous two months.

The survey provides a note of caution after a stream of surprisingly strong economic indicators.

"These figures are a reality check and will make retailers nervous as we enter the run up to Christmas," said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG.

The Bank of England has sought to encourage business and consumer spending by giving clear guidance that its interest rates will not rise any time soon. But wage growth is still lagging behind inflation, raising questions over the sustainability of the recovery.

Some of Britain's biggest retailers have sounded a cautious note on the recovery.

Morrisons, Britain's fourth-biggest grocer, said last month that higher spending in the London area was not indicative of the rest of the country. Next, the country's No. 2 clothing retailer, said a full-blown recovery would require growth in real earnings, not just borrowing.

(Reporting by Christina Fincher; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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