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Retail chiefs slam ONS figures

Arcadia and Bhs owner Sir Philip Green and Sainsburys chief executive Justin King have both rubbished the retail sales figures for May released by the Office of National Statistics yesterday.

Despite rising inflation, concerns over higher fuel bills, lower consumer confidence and a slowing economy, ONS said this week that sales volumes grew by 3.5% in May against the previous month.

Economists told The Daily Telegraph that the upbeat figures had increased the chances of an interest rate rise.

Green told the newspaper that the figures were bizarre given the economic situation. He said: “These figures in no way reflect the current trend. They are totally misleading. I have no idea where they collect this information from. I’d love to know. Can I join the club that is seven points up in May?”

He went on to say the month of May had seen some improvement but cautioned against viewing it as a consumer recovery.

Green added: “May was better. But we had the first week of sunshine following weeks of rain, sleet and even snow, which released a huge amount of pent up demand. For anyone to read anything else into these numbers would be wrong and dangerous.”

Sainsburys chief executive Justin King added: “The ONS doesn’t appear to understand how people shop. These figures are based on small basket and include promotional activity.”

What do you make of the ONS findings? Post your comments below.

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