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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 10:52 GMT
UK consumers flock to the shops
Woman with child shopping in supermarket
Shoppers have not lost their appetite
UK retail sales grew at double the expected rate during October, up 0.6% on the month and 3.7% on October 2002.

With consumer spending still going strong, analysts believe that the Bank of England may want to raise interest rates yet again in the near future.

Spending grew across nearly all sectors - boosted by bonfire night, Halloween and the start of Christmas shopping.

Consumer spending was one of the main reasons for the Bank of England to raise rates to 3.75% in November.

Another factor was Britain's buoyant housing market. Latest lending figures published on Thursday suggest that the mortgage market is still growing strongly, adding to fears that the Bank of England might push up rates even further.

However, neiter the latest retail sales nor the lending figures reflect the impact of the November rate rise yet.

Winners and losers

The big winners were department stores - up 1.6% - and non-food stores.

However, shops in the highly volatile textile, clothing and footwear sectors saw sales slide by 0.5%, probably a hangover from very strong clothing sales during September.

The Office for National Statistics also revised upwards its retail sales figures for September, which it now says grew 0.7% month-on-month, instead of the previous 0.6% estimate.

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