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UK retail sales growth weakens in August

British retail sales slowed in August as consumers chose to defer purchases of autumn ranges and spend money at the pub instead, Reuters reported Sept.4.

Total spending edged up 1.3% year over year, reflecting the weakest rise since November 2017, figures from the British Retail Consortium showed. There was also a significant fall in April due to the Easter holiday.

Barclaycard, a broader measure of consumer spending, which processes under half of card payments in the U.K., climbed 4.5% in August, buoyed by an 11.9% year-over-year rise in spending at pubs.

The hot weather primarily benefited pubs, restaurants and supermarkets while clothing sales fell.

But the BRC said the greater dent on spending on goods other than food were the above-target inflation and sluggish wage growth. As the weather cooled in August, food sales dropped too.

Online retailers continued to outsell traditional retailers. Total in-store sales of non-food items fell 2.2% on the year, the most since records for this category began in January 2012.

Looking ahead, Barclaycard said a third of people it surveyed planned to rein in spending this autumn after having spent more than usual over the summer.

The BRC figures were based on sales over the four weeks to Aug. 25, while the Barclaycard numbers were based on transactions between July 22 and Aug. 18 and a survey of 1,697 consumers conducted by market research company YouGov on Aug. 20-21.