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Watch sales fuel growth for Britain’s struggling retail sector

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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 04: Watches are viewed in a window display outside of a Manhattan store on June 4, 2015 in New York City. As the Apple Watch and other smart-watches continue to make in-roads into the traditional watch market, many in the industry are paying close attention to consumers preferences when it comes to purchasing a watch. Fossil Group, which produces watches for Michael Kors, Tory Burch, DKNY and other designers, has reported a 7 percent decline in revenues in the first quarter, to $725 million. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Britons are defying the Brexit gloom and splashing out on watches and jewellery, figures published yesterday reveal.

Sales of watches and jewellery shot up 2% in the three months to the end of September, outperforming every other type of purchase in the process.

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The boom helped retail sales expand 1.2% in the period despite a raft of big-name high street closures.

The figures, which were released by the Office for National Statistics, show that watch and jewellery sales growth exceeded categories such as cosmetics, sports equipment, electronics equipment and books and newspapers.

ONS head of retail sales, Rhian Murphy, said: “Retail continued to grow in the three months to September with jewellery shops and online stores seeing particularly strong sales. This was despite a stark slowdown in food sales September, following a bumper summer.”

In the three months to September 2018, the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 1.2% when compared with the previous three months, with strong sales in “other stores” and online retailing.

The increase of 3.9% for the quantity of goods bought in “other stores” for the three months to September 2018 was the largest overall contributor to the growth in total retail sales, due largely to strong growth in watch and jewellery stores.

Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell slightly to 17.8% in September 2018 from the 18.0% reported in August 2018, yet food stores and clothing stores both reported record proportions of internet retail at 5.8% and 18.2% respectively.

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