World News

UK retail sales show zero growth in February, before virus hit

LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales failed to grow at all last month, their weakest performance since 2013, official figures showed on Thursday, even before what shops expect to be the biggest fall in sales in more than a decade due to coronavirus-imposed shutdowns.

Sales volumes were flat in February compared with the same month in 2019 after growth of 0.9% in January, below economists’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for annual sales growth to hold broadly steady at 0.8%.

“Retail sales continued to decline in the latest three months due to weak sales across most store types, with February’s bad weather and flooding impacting on footfall,” ONS statistician Rhian Murphy said.

“A small number of retailers also said that the impact of the coronavirus had affected sales of goods shipped from China,” she added.

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)