BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Business
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Market Data 
Economy 
Companies 
E-Commerce 
Your Money 
Business Basics 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
UK retail sales fall
Rainy high street
Bad weather kept shoppers at home
UK retail sales fell in April as wet weather and higher interest rates conspired to keep shoppers at home.

The sales total fell 0.3% in April compared to March, to stand 4.5% higher on the year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Analysts had expected the volume of goods sold to rise by 0.4% in April.

Recent rate rises from the Bank of England have started to feed through to consumers' mortgage payments, leaving them with less disposable cash to spend.

In the past three months, sales rose 0.2% and were 4.5% higher than the same three months a year ago.

While the ONS blamed wet weather for the poorer sales, it is also thought they made a negative adjustment for Easter, which fell in April this year as opposed to March last year.

The ONS said that the trend was "not as strong as in recent months".

Comments like these provide support for those who say the Bank of England should now leave interest rates on hold.

The Royal Bank of Scotland's Neil Parker said: "This data is weaker than market forecasts and...should support calls for no further Bank of England rate hikes and will likely undermine the pound."

BNP Paribas's Ken Wattret said: "I am a little bit surprised. I think when in doubt, blame the weather.

"In terms of policy, the fact that there are some signs of a slowdown in the High Street is another reason to believe that the upward pressure on UK rates is limited."

Minutes from the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee released on Wednesday showed the nine members of the MPC were unanimous in their decision to leave rates at 6% earlier this month.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

17 May 00 | Business
Unemployment reaches 20-year low
04 Apr 00 | Business
George defends inflation policy
17 May 00 | Business
MPC unanimous on rate pause
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories