UK retail sales bounce back but economists fear grim autumn ahead – business live


Rolling live coverage of business, economics and financial markets as retail sales volumes rise by 0.8% in August

  • Economists warn that positive retail picture may worsen in winter
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  • FTSE 100 posts declines as industrials drag

11.16am BST

In a press release (that did not mention the 4.8m workers still absent from work) chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures showed the furlough scheme was a “success”.

He was focusing on the number of workers in the retail industry on furlough, which halved from the start of the pandemic from 1.85m to 789,000.

These figures show the success of our furlough scheme – making sure people’s jobs are there for them to return to.

That so many businesses have been able to get back to trading, and bring their staff back to the workplace is a testament to the impact the scheme has had.

11.15am BST

The latest figures from the UK Treasury show that as many as 5.3m workers remained on furlough at the end of July, although nearly a million returned to part-time work as the government started to wind down the scheme.

The scheme, introduced to save jobs during the government-imposed lockdown, paid 80% of furloughed workers’ wages up to £2,500 per month. The number of workers furloughed under the coronavirus job retention scheme peaked at 8.9m on 8 May but fell to 4.8m by 31 July.

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