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Furniture & DIY Stores Help Maintain Sales Growth in UK

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Retail sales continued to grow at a robust rate with the sale of discounted furniture helping maintain strong growth in July, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics. The headline three-monthly growth rate for May to July was 1.8 per cent higher than the previous three months. This compares with 1.8 per cent in the three months to June and 1.7 per cent in the three months to May and means that headline growth has remained between 1.7 and 2.0 per cent since last December. In July, three-monthly growth rates increased for food stores, household goods stores and "other" non-food stores. Household goods stores and "other" non-food stores showed strongest growth in sales volumes during July. Among household goods stores, both furniture retailers and DIY stores performed well. Continued increases in sales volumes for mail order and internet companies raised the three month annual rate for the non-store retailing and repair sector to 12.5 per cent, the highest since records for this sector began in 1986. Monthly figures show that the total sales volume decreased by 0.4 per cent between June and July, the first fall since May 2003 when it fell by 0.6 per cent. This follows a 1.0 per cent increase last month and a 0.7 per centincrease in May. Clothing stores saw monthly sales volumes continue to decrease in July to: -2.7 per cent from -0.7 per cent in June. This is the lowest monthly growth rate since September 2002 when it was -5.0 per cent. Retailers reported adecrease in sales due to price reductions and poor weather conditions. The unadjusted value of retail sales in July totalled £18.7 billion. Average weekly sales were £4.7 billion, 5.3 per cent (about £300 million) higher than the same month in 2003. BACKGROUND NOTES 1. More details of these figures are found in the Retail sales first release published today at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/rs0804.pdf 2. The volume of retail sales is the total takings adjusted for inflation and the value of retail sales is the total actual takings. 3. The next release of retail sales data is on 16 September 2004. 4. The July survey period covered the 4 weeks from 4 July to 31 July 2004. 5. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. (c) Crown copyright 2004. Issued by: National Statistics, 1 Drummond Gate, London SW1V 2QQ. Internet www.statistics.gov.uk

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