CBI: Retail sales fall for longest period since 2011

Shoppers

The latest CBI monthly survey shows that sales fell for the third consecutive month, the longest period of decline since 2011.

Retail sales fell for the third consecutive month in the year to July, marking the longest period of decline since 2011, according to the latest CBI monthly Distributive Trades Survey.

While the survey is from a relatively small sample – including 46 retailers – the figures showed that sales volumes fell in the year to July, albeit to a lesser extent than in August. Orders placed on suppliers also declined for the third consecutive month, but at a slower pace than the previous month. Both sales and orders are anticipated to be broadly flat next month.

Grocers were the largest positive contributor to headline sales growth this month.

Some 26% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in April on a year ago, whilst 42% said they were down, giving a balance of -16%.

This was a slower than in May (-27%) and August (-42%).

A quarter of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, whilst 43% placed fewer orders, giving a rounded balance of -19%. This was a less severe fall than the previous month (-33%). Similarly, a quarter of retailers reported that their volume of sales for the time of year were good, whilst 45% said they were poor, giving a balance of -20%.

A total of 30% of wholesalers reported sales volumes to be up on last year, and 31% said they were down, giving a rounded balance of 0%. Volumes are expected to improve slightly next month (+8%).

Across the economy more broadly, growth has been volatile in the first half of 2019, driven by companies’ stockpiling uncertainties ahead of previous Brexit deadlines.

Looking to the future, the CBI said it expected the economy to grow modestly further ahead, though a no-deal Brexit would likely hit activity and financial markets significantly.