UK retail sales fell more than expected in September, reflecting the largest decline in food store sales in almost two years, according to data from the National Statistics Office.
Retail sales, including automotive fuel, fell by 0.8 percent compared with the previous month in September – mainly due to a large decline of 1.5 percent in sales in food stores, which was the largest decline in sales of food stores since October 2015.  According to the forecasts, retail sales will fall 0.4 percent after increasing by 0.4 percent in August. A similar decline has recently been observed in March. At the same time, sales of non-food stores increased by 0.1 percent.
Sales excluding automotive fuel also decreased by 0.8 percent in monthly terms, after increasing by 0.5 percent in August. Economists had forecast a decline of 0.4 percent in September.
In annual terms, overall growth in retail sales slowed to 3 percent from 3.4 percent in August. Similarly, sales, excluding the auto business, grew at a slower pace of 3.2 percent compared to 3.6 percent a month ago.
In the three months to September, retail sales increased by 1.2 percent compared to the previous three months.  The head of retail sales in statistics management said that retail trade continued to grow in the three months to September; jewelry stores and online stores recorded particularly strong sales.
Growth was recorded, despite a sharp slowdown in food sales in September.
Although retail sales in September were weaker than expected, sales still rose strongly the third quarter as a whole, says Ruth Gregory, economist at Capital Economics.
In the face of sustained real wage growth, this should now pave the way for a gradual recovery in consumer spending in the coming year, Gregory added.