U.K. Retail Sales Fall Less Than Forecast as Confidence Holds

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. retail sales fell less than economists forecast in August, suggesting consumer confidence remained resilient in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online declined 0.2 percent from July, when sales surged an upwardly revised 1.9 percent -- the strongest gain for the month since 2002. A 0.4 percent drop was forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Sales excluding auto fuel fell 0.3 percent, also less than forecast, the data from the Office for National Statistics Thursday show.

“Despite a small fall after July’s sharp increase, the underlying pattern in the retail sector remains one of solid growth,” said ONS statistician Mel Richard. “There was some variation between different sector but overall the figures do not suggest any major fall in post-referendum consumer confidence.”

The figures come as the Bank of England prepares to announce its latest interest-rate decision at noon in London. Economists expect no change after policy makers cut rates and restarted asset purchases last month, though officials may keep the door open to further stimulus later this year.

Food sales rose 0.7 percent in August, offsetting a 1.9 percent drop in non-food sales. Clothing and footwear fell 3.4 and household goods dropped 5.3 percent.

Sales rose 6.2 percent from a year earlier and were up 1.6 percent in the latest three months.