Retail sales looking soggy

Retail sales have fallen faster in the last month than at any time in the past year and a bit, a survey has shown - presumably as would-be shoppers look out of the window and decide investing in a summer wardrobe is a gamble too far.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 15 Aug 2013

The CBI’s Distributive Trades Survey, which came out this morning, shows that although 23% of retailers reported sales volumes were up on last year, 33% said they were down – putting the balance at -11, its lowest since January last year. That was largely driven by grocery sales, which dropped to -3% after a balance of +20% last month (no barbecues, then), while the balance of optimism in clothing sales stood at -21%, and -11% for footwear.

You’ve got to hand it to them, though – in the face of all this adversity, retailers are trying to maintain a positive outlook. The survey shows that 29% expect an increase in sales, with 20% are anticipating a fall. 16% expect business conditions to improve, while 7% expect them to deteriorate.

Despite that optimism, growth in the retail sector is unlikely to be forthcoming: 41% say they’re planning to cut back on investment over the next year, compared with 18% who want to increase the amount they’re spending, while 33% say they have cut back on employment in the past 12 months, compared with 33% who have increased employment.

That brings the number of jobs created in the sector over the past year to a big fat zero. And with 62,000 shops set to disappear by 2016, it isn’t a great time to be in the industry…

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