Current Affairs

Retail sales growth continues

High street retailers have reported improved year-on-year sales for the third consecutive month, according to data gathered by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey covers the first two weeks in November and revealed that year-on-year sales volumes grew for the third successive month, with 49 per cent of retailers reporting an increase and 16 per cent a reduction in their volume of sales compared to a year ago. The resulting balance of +33 per cent is the highest since June this year (+42 per cent) and more than the anticipated +27 per cent.

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Despite this, retailers considered the volume of sales to be 15 per cent below normal for the time of year.

Year-on-year sales volumes growth was positive in nine of the thirteen individual retail sectors. Grocers reported volumes growth for the seventh month running, while volumes growth of 29 per cent in the clothing sector proved better than the expected 4 per cent.

Growth in orders placed with suppliers on a year ago has also continued to climb, with November’s balance, at +16 per cent, exceeding expectations and providing the highest figure since June.

Looking ahead to December, volumes growth on the year is expected to decelerate slightly to 25 per cent, though sales are expected to move back into line with the seasonal norm. Orders placed with suppliers are expected to increase 11 per cent on the year, while inflation is expected to continue growing alongside employment.

Head of economic analysis at the CBI Anna Leach said: “This months’ survey is reason to be cheerful as we head into the festive period. Retailers across the board will be heartened by these encouraging results. The increase in employment, along with expectations for improvement in the business situation over the next quarter, points towards a welcome boost for the sector.

“But the fact that retailers are still reluctant to authorise new capital expenditure shows that there is some way to go before activity on the high street is back to normal.”

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