Retail sales in the UK rebounded by more than expected in October, suggesting consumer activity may be more resilient going into the key fourth-quarter period than recent evidence had shown.
Office for National Statistics data, published on Thursday, showed that month on month, retail sales rose by 0.3% in October, up from September's alarming 0.7% decline, and beating analysts' forecasts of a 0.1% rise.
Annual sales decline
Less encouragingly, the annual rate of sales declined by 0.3%, the biggest annual fall in sales volumes since March 2013, largely because of an exceptionally strong October last year.
Recent data from other sources, however, have continued to suggest slowing growth in the retail sector.
This month's retail sales survey by the British Retail Consortium showed that sales volumes continued to suffer as consumer spending is squeezed by rising inflation and weak wage growth.
Consumer spending squeezed
Indeed, data this week showed that while inflation remained at 3% in October, average annual earnings growth could only manage a 2.2% rate - a negative wage gap of 0.8 percentage points.
Analysts generally put a negative spin on the data.