Retail outlook gloomy as sales fall

| August 26, 2011
Retail outlook gloomy as sales fall

UK retail sales volumes fell in August, at the fastest pace for over a year, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reports.

In a new quarterly survey, 46% of retailers said they had experienced falling sales in the two weeks to mid-August (compared with a year earlier) and the level of negativity registered over prospects for the coming quarter was at its highest for two-and-a-half years.

The research also reveals that the volume of orders placed with suppliers fell at its fastest pace since May 2010, with orders expected to fall again next month.

Retailers are also scaling back investment plans over the next 12 months, with the outlook the most negative since February 2009.

Meanwhile, price inflation on the High Street remains above average and isn’t expected to slow much in the month ahead.

Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and ASDA chief operating officer, Judith McKenna, comments: “As expected, August was a tough month on the High Street …. as consumers have continued to see their real incomes squeezed by a combination of inflation and weak wage growth.”

She adds: “This survey suggests that prices will rise more slowly in the coming months, and savvy retailers will continue to offer consumers the lowest prices possible, but with energy and commodity costs still high, families’ spending power looks like being constrained for some time.”

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