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UK retail sales jump as consumer confidence rises

February saw UK retail sales increase for a second successive month, while consumer confidence increased in March.

Despite rising inflation rates and a series of interest rates, the volume of retail sales in February 2023 increased by 1.2%, according to the ONS. This was above forecasts of 0.5% increases.

Meanwhile, GfK showed that its Consumer Confidence Index had risen this month by two points to -36, the highest reading since March 2022.

Respondents to the survey in March were more optimistic about the coming year, with the sub-index measuring their outlook on the future economic situation increasing by three points to -40.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistic at the ONS, commented: “Retail grew sharply in February with sales returning to their pre-pandemic level. However, the broader picture remains more subdued, with retail sales showing little real growth, particularly over the last 18 months with price rises hitting consumer spending power.”

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “A small improvement in the overall index score this month masks continuing concerns among consumers about their personal financial situation. Wages are not keeping up with rising prices and the cost-of-living crisis remains a stark reality for most.”

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