UK April retail sales "poor", expect May weakness too - CBI
Retail sales have been “poor for the time of year” this month and sales volumes both in-store and online fell rapidly in the year to April. That’s the takeaway from the latest CBI monthly Distributive Trades Survey.
Sales are also expected to remain below seasonal norms in May, but to a lesser extent compared to April, it added.
As tough retail conditions prevail, the sales balance fell to -24% from -23% in March, and is expected to remain poor in May, though with some improvement (-17%).
The balance is the weighted difference between the percentage of retailers reporting an increase and those reporting a decrease.
Retail sales volumes also fell rapidly in the year to April (-35% from +9% in March). This is the first fall in retail sales volumes in 13 months, the CBI noted.
Next month, retailers expect sales volumes to continue declining but at a more modest pace of -8%.
Online sales volumes also continued to fall in the year to April, but at a slower pace than in March (-36% from -46%), marking the third consecutive monthly drop. Internet sales are expected to decline at a more modest pace next month (-6%).
Worryingly too, retailers saw stock levels in relation to expected sales as “too low” in April (-9% from +15% in March), though an improvement in relative stocks is expected in May (+5%).
Martin Sartorius, Principal Economist at the CBI, said: “Retail sales were below seasonal norms in April as consumer spending continued to shift back towards services and rising prices impacted households’ spending power.”
He added: “Rapid inflation means that the cost-of-living crisis is going nowhere soon. Going for growth must continue to be the government’s primary domestic focus, as increasing productivity growth is the only sustainable route to raise living standards.”
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