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March retail sales subdued, says CBI


Retail sales at the start of March were bad in comparison to the same month in previous years, according to new research.

The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) Distributive Trades Survey for the period between February 28th and March 16th shows that 16 per cent of retailers considered trading to be good, while 40 per cent said they were poor.

CBI’s data also indicates that 42 per cent of retailers saw their volume of sales rise year-on-year for the two-week period in question, while 27% said they fell. Retailers also expect trading to remain tough in the months ahead.

In comparison to the business group’s previous research, March’s figures suggest that high street trading was better than the same month in 2010 and growing at a faster rate than February, but relatively subdued compared to previous years.

British Retail Consortium and KPMG’s most recent Retail Sales Monitor, published earlier this month, also painted a negative picture of the current retail landscape, with like-for-like UK sales across the sector said to have dropped by 0.4 per cent year-on-year in February.

Ian McCafferty, CBI Chief Economic Adviser, said: “Sales growth picked up slightly for retailers compared with last month, but look beneath the surface and conditions remain tough on the high street.

“Even the best performing sectors - namely grocers and clothing - have seen volumes continue to fall.

“With inflation edging higher and earnings growth only modest, household budgets are under increasing pressure. Consumer demand will remain weak in the coming months.”

Published on Wednesday 30 March by Editorial Assistant

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