British retail sales edge slightly lower in August

Retail sales in Britain fell 0.2 percent in August from July, official data showed Thursday, with no real indication that the Brexit vote outcome was hurting spending.

“Regarding the EU referendum in late June, our data on retail sales since the vote show little evidence of a departure from recent trends,” the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

Analysts had expected a decrease of 0.7 percent month-on-month.

The ONS added that the largest contribution to August’s decrease in sales by volume came from non-food stores, which was backed up Thursday by disappointing earnings updates from major UK clothing and home goods stores John Lewis and Next.

Britain voted on June 23 to exit the European Union, sparking warnings, including from the Bank of England, that the country could fall into recession.

Consequently, the BoE last month decided to cut the central bank’s main interest rate to a record low 0.25 percent and pump tens of billions of extra pounds (dollars/euros) around the UK economy.

The central bank is not expected to announce any new action later Thursday following the conclusion of its latest monetary policy meeting.

Indeed, BoE governor Mark Carney last week claimed the UK economy was holding up well thanks in part to the bank’s emergency action taken in August.

Sales have meanwhile been helped by a weaker pound in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The latest official retail sales data “provides further evidence that the UK is weathering the near term effects of the Brexit vote well”, said ING bank economist James Knightley.

He added that “sterling’s fall is likely to have boosted sales of high end items by foreign tourists as watches and fashions become relatively cheaper for them when bought in the UK versus elsewhere.”