UK Retail Sales - Economic Data Preview

[B]UK Retail Sales[/B] are set to swing back into positive territory in June, growing at an annualized rate of 2.1% after shrinking -1.6% in the year to May, the most in 17 years. A rebound in retail spending seems to bolster expectations from NIESR, a closely watched London-based think thank, that forecast the economy probably shrank just -0.4% in the second quarter, the smallest drop in a year. NIESR has argued that “the U.K. economy is now stagnating rather than continuing to contract at a sharp pace.” Notably, the apparent signs of stabilization may not translate into meaningful gains for the British Pound. Retail sales figures have exhibited extraordinary volatility since the beginning of this year: annualized receipts grew 2.6% in January, dropped -1.5% in February, then gained 0.9% and 2.7% in the following two months before plunging again in May. This suggests traders will be wary of taking even a sharp improvement at face value, waiting for a discernable trend to be established. Cues from the labor market seem to point to subdued retail activity for the time being, with the jobless rate to approach 9% by the end of next year for the first time since 1994, trimming disposable incomes and weighing on spending.