UK retail sales declined unexpectedly in February, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday. Retail sales dropped 0.3 percent on a monthly basis in February, in contrast to a 1.1 percent rise in January and confounding expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent. Excluding auto fuel, retail sales volume decreased 0.5 percent, reversing a 1.8 percent increase a month ago. Economists had forecast a 0.3 percent fall. On a yearly basis, retail sales volume remained flat after rising 0.9 percent in January. Sales were forecast to grow 0.7 percent. Sales volume, excluding auto fuel, advanced 0.5 percent, following January's 1.3 percent increase and weaker than the expected 1.1 percent. The data collection was completed by February 29 and was largely unaffected by recent developments with the coronavirus, the ONS said. In the three months to February, retail sales fell for the fourth consecutive month by 0.6 percent.