by David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – U.K. retail sales fell more sharply than expected in September as consumers postponed purchases of autumn clothing due to unseasonably warm weather, amid increased pressures on the cost of living, show official data published Friday.

These sales fell by 0.9% in September over one month after an increase of 0.4% in August, announced the National Statistics Office (ONS).

Economists polled by Reuters forecast a decline of 0.2%.

“It was a bad month for clothing stores, as warm weather in the fall reduced sales of clothing intended for colder temperatures. However, the unseasonable warmth of September helped slightly increase sales of food products,” commented Grant Fitzner, chief economist at the ONS.

Clothing sales fell by 1.6% in volume and household goods stores saw their sales fall by 2.3%, due, according to the ONS, to inflationary pressures.

The pound sterling fell against the dollar after the release of this data.

Year-over-year sales fell 1.0% in September, while third-quarter sales as a whole were 0.8% lower than the previous quarter.

Retail sales in the third quarter are expected to subtract 0.04 percentage points from the growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) during the period, the ONS said.

(Report by David Milliken, by Claude Chendjou, edited by Blandine Hénault)

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