Retail sales bounce back in May but sector still “deeply depressed”

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Retail sales bounce back in May but sector still
The CBI said April's figures were the joint-fastest declines in its survey's 37-year history but a bounce in the grocery sector offset some of this in May.
// Retail sales bounced back from April’s record lows but still remained “deeply depressed”, according to the CBI
// CBI’s measure of retail sales volume picked up from -55% in April to -50% in May
// 80% of retailers reported having difficulty with cashflow, although this was better than 96% in April

Retail sales bounced back from April’s record lows but still remained “deeply depressed” over the last 12 months as four in five retailers say they are facing cashflow difficulties.

New data from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found its measure of retail sales volume had picked up from -55 per cent to -50 per cent in May.

April’s figures were the joint-fastest declines in the survey’s 37-year history but a bounce in the grocery sector offset some of this in May.


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“The retail sector is at the sharp end of a crisis, with many businesses up against it,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

“The government’s support packages are making a real difference, with more shops reporting that jobs have been furloughed, rather than lost.

“The furlough system will need to adapt as more businesses open their doors in the months ahead.”

The survey, which measures responses from 87 retailers, found sales volumes are expected to fall again next month.

The drop will likely once more be a little slower, but still at historically poor rates.

A Covid-19 survey run by the CBI also suggested the disruption to supply chains has become worse since April, with 58 per cent of retailers now saying they are struggling to get enough of some goods.

Others are experiencing high levels of shipping delays and constrained capacity.

Around 80 per cent of retailers reported they were having difficulty with cashflow.

However, the CBI said this was down from 96 per cent in April’s figures.

Just over half have reported laying off staff temporarily.

“As we gradually reopen the economy, retailers may yet need more support from the government if demand falters,” Newton-Smith said.

“Ensuring safety in the workplace remains the top priority as more firms look to bring staff back to work. Many challenges remain in managing supply chains and costs in a tough environment.”

with PA Wires

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