United Kingdom retail sales surge as consumers ignore Brexit and keep shopping

Employment rate remains at a joint record high

Employment rate remains at a joint record high

The UK consumer price index rate was 1.9% in March, unchanged from February, according to the Office for National Statistics.

March inflation missed economists' expectations of 2 per cent, which would have put it squarely in line with the Bank of England's target.

Sterling ticked higher on Wednesday as investors prepared for March inflation data to gauge price pressures in the British economy, as Brexit negotiations took a back seat.

Department stores were the only type of stores to report a fall in sales compared with the previous year, seeing a 0.3% decline in March.

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United Kingdom inflation unexpectedly remained below target for the third month in a row in March, as higher fuel prices were offset by the falling prices of food and computer games.

Looking ahead, improving wage growth and poor productivity in Britain's economy are likely to push inflation above the BoE's 2 percent target by the end of 2019, said economist Andrew Wishart from consultancy Capital Economics.

Games toys and hobbies, the category which includes computer games, rose 1 per cent on the month, compared to a 3 per cent rise in March of past year.

He continued: "We suspect house prices will rise only 1% over the year and would not be at all surprised if they stagnate".

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More shoppers migrated online last month, with the proportion of sales being made on the internet edging up to 18.6 per cent in March, from 18.1 per cent in February.

"However, we suspect that this could mark the peak of employment growth as the Brexit uncertainty reached its crescendo. and the surveys turned down sharply in March", they added in a note to clients.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, commented, "Today's figures demonstrate the strength of the jobs market, which is a key United Kingdom success story".

British house prices rose in February at the weakest rate in six-and-a-half years, dragged down by the biggest slump in London for a decade as Brexit uncertainty sent chills through the market.

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Apart from resurgent Dollars demand, persistent Brexit uncertainty further collaborated to the ongoing slide, though it remains to be seen if the current fall is categorized as a fresh technical breakdown as Brexit headlines could easily swing it either direction.

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