British retail sales posted the biggest quarterly fall in seven years during the first three months of 2017, as rising prices since last year's Brexit vote started to pressure consumers. David Pollard reports.
It's becoming the key campaign message. Three days after calling a snap election, Britain 'safe' she says, in her hands. But what's benefitted the UK economy since its Brexit referendum last June is a strong and stable consumer. He or she may now be weakening. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "It's a horrible set or retail sales numbers. I mean, we were expecting a further decline in volume during the month of March by 0.5 per cent, but a decline of 1.8 per cent (month on month), I think, is the weakest number that we've seen in something like seven years." On the quarter too, it was the biggest drop since 2010. The numbers sending sterling to a day's low. As traders fretted that household spending - the main driver of the economy - has slowed sharply. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "Really, this is consistent with other consumer-oriented data that we have that the UK consumer is running out of steam. They're clearly feeling the pinch of imported inflation which is being passed on to product prices." The economy could now vye with Brexit for top billing on next June's UK election stage. With inflation currently running hot at 2.3 per cent, UK real wage growth is virtually non-existent - the UK's robust post-referendum performance in danger of fading. A message that could prove a major negative for the British prime minister... No matter how much spin she may put on it.