// CBI says 74% of retailers expected sales to drop in the coming month compared to a year earlier
// Only 23% thought sales volume would rise
// The CBI says retail sales fell in the year to January, after having gone through December broadly stable
Retailers up and down the UK are bracing themselves for their worst month since May as the country kicked off 2021 with another set of lockdowns.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that retail sales fell in the year to January, after having gone through December broadly stable.
In a survey of 133 firms, which includes 66 retailers, the CBI found they had been seriously hurt by Covid-19 restrictions.
- Retail footfall drops to lowest level on record in 2020
- Consumer confidence drops despite vaccine promises, research says
- Retail sales in 2020 witness largest annual fall in history
“Today’s data brings home the ongoing challenges of lockdown for the retail sector, as sales volumes weaken once again,” CBI principal economist Ben Jones said.
“On the upside, while the headline balance points to a fall in sales across many sub-sectors, the experience of the past few months suggests the decline won’t be anything like as severe as in spring 2020.”
Since January 5, all four countries in the UK have been under lockdown restrictions due to the pandemic, the first time the whole nation was in this state since last spring.
It meant that all non-essential shops were forced to close and will stay closed until the restrictions are lifted – with dates differing between each of the countries.
“With the lockdown likely to remain in place in the near-term, retailers expect this weakness to continue. It is therefore vital that Government support continues in parallel to restrictions,” Jones said.
“To alleviate some of the stress on our struggling high streets, the business rates holiday should be extended for at least another three months to those businesses forced to close.
“In the longer-term there must be a fundamental review of business rates. A reformed system can play a key role in driving essential investment across the UK.”
The CBI’s survey was carried out between December 22 and January 14.
It found that 74 per cent of businesses expected sales to drop in the coming month compared to a year earlier.
Meanwhile, only 23 per cent thought sales volume would rise.
Among wholesalers, 58 per cent expected a drop and 24 per cent were forecasting a rise in sales volumes.
The UK’s businesses have faced a tough year, with many retailers being forced to close.
During the pandemic major high street names such as Debenhams and Topshop-owner Arcadia Group have been forced into administration.
with PA Wires