Pre-Christmas retail sales rise ahead of 2017 slowdown

Retail sales growth accelerated in the year to December, with volumes rising at the fastest pace since September 2015, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey.

In a survey of 53 retailers, 51% said that sales volumes were up, whilst 16% said they were down, giving a balance of +35%.

Sales volumes for the time of year were considered well above average, but growth is expected to slow somewhat in the year to January – 17% of retailers expect the volume of orders to increase in the year to January, with 19% expecting them to decrease, giving a balance of -2%.

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Meanwhile, 32% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 19% placed fewer, giving a rounded balance of +12%.

CBI Principal Economist Ben Jones said: “It’s encouraging to see retailers reporting another month of healthy sales growth leading up to the festive season, which rounds off a fairly solid quarter.

“While we still expect to see decent growth in the near term, the pressures on retail activity are likely to increase during 2017, as the impact of sterling’s depreciation feeds through. With higher inflation beginning to weigh on households’ purchasing power, consumption patterns are likely to shift, creating winners and losers across the retail landscape.”

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