UK retail sales rise above pre-pandemic levels

LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - British retail sales rose above their pre-coronavirus level in July, the first full month that shops selling non-essential goods were open since the country went into lockdown in March, official figures showed on Friday.

Retail sales volumes rose by a much stronger than expected 3.6% from June and were 1.4% higher than in July 2019, the Office for National Statistics said, representing a sharp recovery from double-digit falls in April and May.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a monthly rise of 2.0% in July, after non-essential stores in England reopened to the public on June 15.

Separately, official figures showed public sector net borrowing, excluding banks, totalled 26.669 billion pounds in July, just above economists’ average 29.45 billion pound forecast. (Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Alistair Smout)