Retail sales fail to recover in April

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UK retail sales have once again come significantly below expectations in April, despite hopes of a recovery after March’s extreme weather.

According to the CBI’s monthly distributive trades survey, in the year to April, 31 per cent of retailers reported sales growth compared to 33 per cent reporting a decline.

This equates to a rating for the month of -2 per cent, well below forecasts of +16 per cent.

However, the 100 survey respondents remained positive in their expectations for the coming month, expecting a +25 per cent balance when compared to a year earlier.

This drop was attributed to poor performances in clothing, footwear and leather, as well as furniture and carpets. Better performances in sectors including grocery and DIY worked to partially offset this.

“Sales have continued to disappoint in April, after falling in March,” head of economic intelligence at the CBI Anna Leach said.

“But expectations for next month are looking a little healthier. It’s no secret that UK high streets have endured tough trading conditions in recent months, with some big names closing or cutting back.

“Much of this reflects ongoing structural changes in the sector as well as the continued squeeze on households’ real incomes.

“While conditions have improved for households recently – with real wage growth inching into positive territory – we expect further gains in living standards to remain modest. So the pressure looks set to stay on retailers for the time being.”

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