Retail sales stable, but clothing remains flatWednesday, 29 February 2012
The CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey, which was conducted over the first two weeks of February, revealed that 34% of retailers reported an increase in their volume of sales in the year to February and 36% said they had seen a reduction. The resulting balance of -2% represents an improvement on last month’s survey (-22%) and exceeded expectations (-10%).
Similarly, the growth in the volume of orders placed upon suppliers was better than anticipated, although it remained weak (-4%).
Fortunes were mixed among retail sectors, and clothing retailers reported -41%, the lowest figure since March 2009 (-98%).
Price inflation in shops, although above the long-run average with a balance of +49%, is down from its peak a year ago (+73%), and at its lowest since late 2010 (+45%).
Looking ahead, retailers expect the volume of sales to remain broadly flat in March (+2%). However, retailers remain concerned about the longer term outlook. Sentiment about the general business situation over the next three months remained negative in February (-12%), for the fifth quarter in a row. Investment intentions for the year ahead are now at their lowest since February 2009 (-43%).
Judith McKenna, Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and ASDA Chief Operating Officer, said: “It’s good to see there are more positive signs on our high streets. But consumers are clearly continuing to focus their spending on day-to-day needs, rather than big ticket or luxury items.
“With disposable incomes under constant pressure, retailers remain concerned about the general business outlook for the rest of 2012.”
Image: High Street Fashion