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28 November 2023

UK consumers prove resilient to Brexit uncertainty - for now

Photo: Reuters


Official figures show the average British consumer shrugged off uncertainty surrounding Brexit at the start of the year.

The Office for National Statistics said Friday that retail sales during January were up 1 percent from the month before, with clothing and footwear heavily in demand.

The monthly increase was greater than the expected 0.2 percent increase.

Analysts cautioned about reading too much into the January figures as they came after a relatively poor Christmas period that’s seen some retailers struggle to stay afloat.

And Brexit uncertainty hasn’t gone away. If anything, it’s getting more acute.

James Smith, developed markets economist at ING bank, said there is a risk that, as the March 29 Brexit date draws nearer, “nervousness about the impact of ‘no deal’ will creep into the consumer mindset.”