// UK retailers built up stocks to record highs in anticipation of Brexit, says the CBI
// Stock levels in relation to expected sales were at their highest level since the survey began in 1983
// Retail sales in the year to October fell for the 6th month in a row, but the pace of decline slowed
UK retailers’ stock levels were at their highest level on record in October ahead of the Brexit deadline, according new data.
Figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) yesterday showed that stock levels in relation to expected sales were at their highest level this month since the survey began in 1983.
The CBI said the combination of the proximity to Christmas and ongoing Brexit uncertainty is likely to have driven stocks higher, particularly with retailers stocking seasonal products earlier than usual.
The UK had expected to leave the EU at the end of this month, but EU members agreed on Monday to grant a three-month extension, meaning it was now set to leave at the end of January next year.
- CBI & FSB join BRC in warning over no-deal Brexit
- BRC: It’s “impossible” for retail to mitigate Brexit no-deal disruption
- Next to cut prices in event of no-deal Brexit as half-year sales & profit rise
Meanwhile, retail sales in the year to October fell for the sixth month in a row – although the pace of decline slowed.
The balance of retailers reporting year-on-year growth in sales volumes rose to -10 from -16 the month before, and versus expectations of -20.
“Retailers have now endured six months of falling sales, the longest period of decline since the financial crisis,” CBI deputy chief economist Anna Leach said.
“The sector is struggling with ongoing digital disruption, layered on top of cost pressures from a weak pound and the cumulative burden of an outdated business rates regime.
“Retailers have also had to contend with the looming Brexit deadline, which has partly driven a record spike in stocks.
“The timing could not be worse: the run-up to Christmas is a crucial time of year for the retail sector, and not knowing where we will be on November 1 is adding more strain to an already beleaguered sector.”