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Retail sales fall sharply in April - CBI Distributive Trades Survey

Retail sales fell sharply in the year to April, according to the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey. This follows no change in sales over March.

While the earlier timing of Easter this year likely played a role in April’s decline, the fall in retail sales was nonetheless greater than expected. Sales are expected to continue falling next month, but at a slower pace.

Key findings included:

  • Retail sales volumes fell sharply in the year to April (weighted balance of -44%), after staying broadly flat in March (+2%). Retailers expect sales to fall again next month, but at a slower pace (-19%).
  • Sales were reported to be below “average” for the time of year (-20%, from 0% in March). Sales are set to remain below seasonal norms next month (-25%).
  • Orders placed on suppliers also fell sharply in April (-49%), having now fallen for a full year. Orders are expected to decline again next month, though at a slower pace (-30%).
  • Retailers’ stock positions were reported to be above “adequate” (+8%) in April, firming from a position of adequacy in March (-1%). Nonetheless, stock adequacy remained below its long-run average (+17%) and is expected to soften a little next month (+4%).

Alpesh Paleja, CBI Lead Economist, said:

“April’s sharp fall in retail sales was likely related to the earlier timing of Easter this year, so we should take it with a pinch of salt. Indeed, the sector is likely to benefit from some favourable tailwinds this year, as falling inflation continues to drive growth in households’ real earnings.

“That being said, conditions do remain challenging on the ground. April’s fall in sales was faster than expected and retailers aren’t overly hopeful about the month ahead.

“Despite inflation headwinds easing, the legacy of high costs remains with us. With business rates set to ramp-up for larger businesses just as rises to the national living wage take effect, retailers are looking for additional support to provide some short-term relief.”

 

Original article link: https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/retail-sales-fall-sharply-in-april-cbi-distributive-trades-survey/

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