Retail sales have fallen at the fastest rate since the height of the financial crisis in 2009, according to the CBI’s latest Distributive Trades Survey for October.
One hundred and six businesses were surveyed, including 49 retailers, revealing that retail sales, supplier orders and relative seasonal sales had all dropped sharply.
Just 15 per cent of retailers reportedly saw sales rise in October while 50 per cent reported a sales drop, yielding a rounded balance of -36 per cent, far below expectations of a 23 per cent rise.
Fifty-seven per cent of retailers placed less orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, compared to 14 per cent who placed more, coming to a -47 per cent balance overall.
Sales were also reportedly below expectations, with 18 per cent stating they were poor for this time of year compared to 12 per cent reporting positive sales.
Internet sales growth expanded at a slowed pace, seeing a 45 per cent rise compared to September’s 54 per cent boost.
“It’s clear retailers are beginning to really feel the pinch from higher inflation,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.
“While retail sales can be volatile from month to month, the steep drop in sales in October echoes other recent data pointing to a marked softening in consumer demand.
“This is a critical time for a sector that employs three million people across Britain. The government can give retailers, especially those on the high street, some much needed relief in next month’s Budget by bringing forward the planned switch of business rates indexation from RPI to CPI.”