UK retail sales rose 1.4 percent in February, but soaring petrol prices held down figures for the quarter as a whole.
During the three months to February, seen as a more reliable figure when assessing consumer habits, sales volumes ropped by 1.4 percent. This represents a larger drop than the 0.5 percent decline recorded in the three months to January, and the biggest three-month fall recorded by the Office for National Statistics since March 2010.
Fuel prices in February were 18.7 percent higher than a year earlier, with petrol costing an average of 120p a litre in February, and diesel 3p more. ONS statistician Kate Davies commented:
“February’s retail sales figures show fairly strong growth, though the underlying three-month picture shows falling sales as February’s figures follow two consecutive months of decline in December and January.
“The underlying trend suggests that rising petrol prices in particular have had a negative effect on the overall quantity of goods bought over the last three months”, Davies concluded.
Sterling surged on the news that retail sales had increased in February, with sterling currently up 0.30 percent against the dollar and 0.30 percent against the euro (1149GMT).