UK retail sales in weakest growth since April

Footwear was the worst performing category in August in the BRC report, but the warm weather boosted sales of barbecues and wine

Olympics on the TV and sunshine outside kept shoppers away from the high street in August and knocked retail sales, according to new industry data.

The latest snapshot of takings for shops, online stores and supermarkets from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed sales dropped 0.9% on a year earlier, in like-for-like terms. That contrasted with growth of 1.1% in July and was the weakest performance since April.

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Optimism and pessimism about Brexit Britain | Letters

Martin Kettle should not be so pessimistic about Britain’s economic future outside of the EU (A bleak future is now clear: it is outside the single market, 2 September). Domestic economic policies pursued by the government will be much more important for the British economy than whether the country retains access to the single market. Of course, exports are important (mainly to pay for imports), but export performance depends firstly on the types of goods produced and traded, and secondly on the growth of markets the country trades with.

The EU has for a long time been among the slowest growing foreign markets, and is likely to remain economically dysfunctional for years ahead as long as it retains the single currency. Britain now has a chance to reorientate its trade which, combined with a sensible industrial strategy geared to investment and innovation in the traded-goods sector, could put the country on a higher sustainable growth path than it has enjoyed for a long time. There is every reason for optimism.
Tony Thirlwall
Professor of applied economics, University of Kent

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Greens cannot afford to ignore economics | Letters

John Harris provides, as usual, an excellent piece on what is wrong with British politics (Politics can’t heal until politicians stand clear of the revolving door, 3 September). However, former politicians and functionaries moving to lucrative jobs in the private sector and people from the private sector moving to less lucrative but influential positions in government is neither new nor a particularly British or European malady. What is missing from Harris and sadly from the Guardian in general is the recognition that this is how capitalism works at home, and is a key feature of how capitalism works globally.

How often do we hear the plea from politicians, functionaries, and corporate executives exposed for questionable practices that they were “doing nothing wrong”. In the strictly legal sense this is often correct, but it only highlights how capitalism and the state work hand in hand. Corporate sponsorship of the Paris climate change meetings is only the most important of recent manifestations of this phenomenon, in this case not only helping to explain why people around the world appear to be losing faith in conventional politics, but also why so little is done to get to the roots of why fossil-fuelled capitalist globalisation has been allowed to put the very existence of the planet at serious risk.
Leslie Sklair

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Greece faces standoff over bailout funds after Athens fails to impose reforms

Eurozone ministers may refuse to release further funds as only two out of 15 changes that were condition of rescue package have been implemented

Greece is facing another bailout standoff with its creditors amid reports that eurozone countries will refuse to release additional funds to it this month.

Athens has frustrated its peers in the single currency by implementing only two of the 15 reforms that were a condition of last year’s rescue package. EU officials told German daily Handelsblatt that Greece has delayed privatising state assets, adding to the frustrations of eurozone finance ministers who will discuss progress on Friday.

Related: A year after the crisis was declared over, Greece is still spiralling down

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UK services sector rebounds as companies shrug off Brexit vote shock

Latest PMI survey for August experiences record jump to 52.9 after worst drop on record in July and follows rebounds for manufacturing and construction

Britain’s services sector enjoyed a record rise last month, as companies shrugged off the initial shock of the vote to leave the EU, according to a survey of business activity that adds to signs the economy has escaped recession in the immediate aftermath of the referendum.

The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (pdf) for August rose to 52.9 after slumping to 47.4 for July following the vote to leave the EU, well above the 50 mark that indicates growth. That was the biggest month-to-month jump in the survey’s 20-year history and followed the biggest drop on record the previous month when businesses were coming to terms with the outcome of June’s referendum.

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Six countries at G20 keen on UK trade talks, says Theresa May

PM names China, India, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore and Australia – but others including US, Japan and Brazil not on list

China is among six countries at the G20 summit that are interested in trade talks with the UK, British officials have said, despite the US and Japan issuing warnings about the negative consequences of Brexit.

Theresa May initially named India, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore and Australia as countries that would welcome initial discussions about enhancing free trade with the UK.

Related: Theresa May promises only ‘some control’ over EU migration post-Brexit – Politics live

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