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The volume of UK sales on the high street in
September was lower than this time a year ago, but the pace of decline has
stabilised, the CBI, the UK's principal employer body, said today.
According to the CBI’s latest Distributive
Trades Survey, 24% of retailers saw sales volumes rise year-on-year, while
39% reported a fall. That gives a balance of -15%, the weakest since May
2010 (a balance of -18%). Although sales volumes growth was virtually
unchanged on August (-14%), this was slightly weaker than expected (-7%).
The three-month moving average of sales,
which smoothes out volatility in the monthly figures, also declined (-11%),
at the fastest rate since August 2009 (-16%).
Sales were reported to be poor for the time
of year by a balance of -30% of retailers, with the decline in volumes felt
across almost all the main sub-sectors: furniture & carpets (-59%);
department stores (-46%); clothing (-36%); and footwear & leather retailers
(-15%) were particularly affected, while grocers’ sales were broadly flat
Looking ahead to next month, sales volumes
are expected to decline at a similar rate (-14%).
Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI
Distributive Trades Panel and ASDA chief operating officer, said:“High street sales are sluggish but appear to
“However consumer confidence continues to
be bruised by a combination of low wage growth, high prices and rising
unemployment. Shoppers are still clamping down on discretionary spending and
focused on buying the basics at the best price.
“With the consumer squeeze set to get
tighter with the winter utility bills rise, we expect retailers will face a
The volume of orders placed upon suppliers
fell at a balance of -16% of retailers, and is expected to decline at a
similar rate next month (-19%). Stock levels are adequate (+16%) to meet
Among wholesalers, 36% reported a rise in the
volume of sales in September, while 23% reported a decline, giving a balance
of +13%, compared with -10% in August. Motor traders saw their ninth
successive month of falling sales volumes (-54%).
1. Firms responding to the Distributive
Trades Survey (DTS) are responsible for a third of employment in retailing.
The survey includes measures of sales activity across the distributive
trades. It was first introduced in 1983 and the retail results form the UK
component of the EC survey of retail trades. It is an accurate early
indicator of monthly retail sales.
2. The survey was conducted between 25 August
and 14 September 2011. 139 firms took part, of which 74 were retailers, 50
were wholesalers and 15 motor traders.
3. A balance is the difference between the
percentage of retailers reporting an increase and those reporting a