UK retailers report higher sales volumes, but no good news for fashion
UK retail sales volumes grew for the first time since November 2018 in the year to April, according to the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey.
But the news wasn’t quite as good as it seemed on the surface as the survey of 110 firms, of which 55 were retailers, showed sales being boosted by the late Easter rather than any deep recovery in consumer confidence.
The Easter impact could be seen from the fact that the month’s sales were above average for the time of year.
And while growth in online sales improved slightly, it remained far below its long-run average.
More bad news came from the fact that grocery was a big driver of the sales rise and there was a notable drop in sales volumes at clothing shops and department stores.
And the outlook seems bleak for the months ahead with wholesalers reporting their weakest growth since June and a decline in sales expected in the year to May. This would be the fastest fall in six years, if it happens.
Looking at the survey in detail, 49% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in April on a year ago, while 36% said they were down, giving a balance of +13%. This was below expectations of +15%.
Some 38% of respondents expect sales volumes to increase next month, and 15% expect a decrease, giving a balance of +23%.
And the CBI said 46% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, while 33% placed fewer orders, giving a balance of +13%. This was above expectations of +6%.
Meanwhile 35% of retailers reported that their volume of sales for the time of year were good, while 25% said they were poor, giving a balance of +10%.
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