FILE PHOTO: A customer leaves with shoping bags, as retail store Primark in Birmingham, Britain reopens its doors after a third lockdown imposed in early January due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recine/File photo
June 18, 2021
LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales fell unexpectedly last month as a lifting of lockdown restrictions encouraged spending in restaurants rather than shops, according to official data.
Retail sales fell 1.4% between April and May, the Office for National Statistics said.
A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to an 1.6% month-on-month increase in retail sales volumes for May.
Food stores suffered the biggest hit.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests the easing of hospitality restrictions had an impact on sales as people returned to eating and drinking at locations such as restaurants and bars,” the ONS said.
In annual terms, retail sales were 24.6% higher than last May, short of the median expectation for a 29.0% increase.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg)