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Spending Growth Drops in Britain

July 3, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ The British economy shows further signs of slowing, with the release Wednesday of figures showing that growth in consumer spending is at its lowest level for 18 months.

The Confederation of British Industry said its survey for May showed almost a third of retailers reported lower sales than a year ago.

``It’s clear consumers are becoming less willing to spend,″ said Alastair Eperon, chairman of the CBI’s survey panel.

Forty-five percent of companies surveyed said their June sales were higher than the same month last year, while 29 percent reported reduced sales. This gives a balance of plus 16 percent _ calculated by subtracting those reporting a fall from those recording a rise.

Growth was last this low in December 2000, the CBI said. Last May the balance was plus 25 percent.

The CBI said the findings support figures from its May survey that showed a marked slowdown in the growth of retail spending.

Eperon said consumers had been deterred from spending by the poor summer weather and activities surrounding the soccer World Cup and Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

But he added that ``longer-lasting factors such as slowing earnings growth, stock market falls and pensions uncertainty could be making consumers more cautious.″

Orders placed with suppliers are rising at a balance of plus 3, compared with plus 21 percent in May, the group said, the slowest rate of growth since April 1999, when the balance was minus 4.


On the Net:

Confederation of British Industry: http://www.cbi.org.uk


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