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Mar 23, 8:09 AM EDT

UK consumers spend more in Feb but underlying trend is down


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LONDON (AP) -- Official figures show retail sales in Britain bounced back strongly in February but that the underlying picture remains gloomy as the country prepares to start two years of discussions to leave the European Union.

The Office for National Statistics said Thursday that retail sales rose 1.4 percent in February from the previous month. An increase had been expected following three monthly declines.

On a three-month basis, however, retail sales are still down by 1.4 percent. That's the worst three-month performance since March 2010.

Analysts say the underlying picture suggests that households are reining in spending ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May's upcoming triggering of the two-year Brexit process as well as rising inflation largely related to higher energy prices.

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