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May 28, 2009    

UK retail sales fall in May

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by Kay Murchie

The Distributive Trades Survey, released by the CBI today, has revealed a fall in UK retail sales in May.

According to the CBI’s survey, 31% of retailers said year-on-year sales volumes were up during the first half of the month, while almost half (48%) said they had fallen.

The resulting balance of -17% was a severe decline from the +3% the previous month.

The fall comes after retail sales were reported to be up in April with good weather bringing a flurry of shoppers to stores during the month.

However, it must be noted that Easter fell in April this year as opposed to falling in March last year and therefore make “comparisons difficult” for year-on-year, according to many analysts.

The CBI cautions that more retailers expect sales to continue falling in June, with the balance at -20%.

Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and chief operating officer of Asda, said: “Conditions were tough again in May for retailers, proving April’s better sales figure was a temporary blip.”

The CBI reported that only grocers and footwear and leather retailers experienced positive sales growth in May.

Flat sales growth was reported at hardware and DIY chains with sales of big ticket household goods continued to decline amid the housing market downturn.

The CBI concluded that supermarkets and shoe shops were the ones experiencing continued growth, as has been reported throughout 2009.

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