LONDON Feb 23 British retail sales partially
recovered this month from a sharp fall in January, an industry
survey showed on Thursday, but companies in the sector were
downbeat about the outlook as last year's Brexit vote pushes up
The Confederation of British Industry's monthly retail sales
balance rose to +9 from -8 in January when it suffered its
biggest one-month drop since records began in 1983.
A Reuters poll of economists had forecast the index would
pick up this month to stand at 0.
Despite the stronger-than-expected improvement, there were
signs of caution among retailers who said they were raising
their prices sharply in response to higher costs.
"Retailers remain cautious about their prospects, expecting
fairly tepid growth in sales volumes next month against a
backdrop of rising inflation that is likely to erode households'
purchasing power through the course of the year," CBI economist
Ben Jones said.
Average selling prices increased at the fastest pace in
almost six years and prices look set to rise even more rapidly
next month, the CBI said.
Companies scaled back on their investment plans, and
employment fell at the fastest pace for two years.
There have been signs recently that Britain's consumers are
reining in their spending, after previously showing little sign
of concern in the second half of 2016 about the country's
decision to leave the European Union at a referendum in June.
Official data released last week showed shoppers cut back on
their spending in January.
(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)