LONDON, Aug 19 — British retail sales surprisingly rose overall in July but consumer confidence is at a record-low as the UK heads towards recession, data showed today.

Sales by volume gained 0.3 per cent last month after a slight drop in June, the Office for National Statistics said, while analysts’ consensus had been for another fall.

Online purchases “were boosted by a range of offers and promotions”, said Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics.

“However, fuel sales fell with some evidence suggesting the very hot weather meant fewer people travelling.”

Morgan added that another fall in sales of clothing and household goods indicated “consumers are cutting back due to increased prices and concerns around affordability and cost of living”.

Separate data Friday showed UK consumer confidence at a record-low.

“With headline after headline revealing record inflation eroding household buying power, the strain on the personal finances of many in the UK is alarming,” said Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK.

Its Consumer Confidence Index fell three points in August to minus 44, the lowest level since records began in 1974.

The Bank of England expects the UK economy to fall into recession by the end of the year as consumers struggle with soaring energy and food prices.

British inflation stands above 10 per cent, the highest level in 40 years, triggering big rises in BoE interest rates that in turn are putting further strain on consumers. — AFP