British retail sales tumbled in January as nonessential shops went back into lockdown, official data showed, but lowerthanexpected public borrowing offered at least some relief to finance minister Rishi Sunak as he prepares a budget plan.
Retail sales volumes slumped by 8.2 compared with December, a far bigger fall than the 2.5 decrease forecast in a Reuters poll of economists and the second largest on record.
The only good thing about the current lockdown is that its no way near as bad for the economy as the first one, Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
The Office for National Statistics said the smaller fall in retail sales last month compared with an 18 plunge last April, and reflected a boom in online services such as clickandcollect.
The ONS also said public sector borrowing of 8.8 billion pounds 12.3 billion was the first January deficit in a decade, but the deficit was a lot less than a forecast of 24.5 billion pounds in the Reuters poll.
That took borrowing since the start of the financial year in April to 270.6 billion pounds, reflecting the surge in spending and tax cuts ordered by Sunak since the start of the pandemic.
He is expected to extend the governments wages subsidies, at least for the hardesthit sectors of the economy, in his budget statement on March 3.
Sunak said he had been able to increase spending because the public finances had been in good shape before the crisis.
Therefore, its right that once our economy begins to…