Retail sales ease in May, says CBI

Retail sales grew at a slower pace last month, according to a survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

In the study of 136 firms, 38% of retailers said their sales volumes were up in May on a year ago, while 22% said they were down, giving a balance of +16% from +30% in April. This was below expectations (+43%).

Grocers saw a slower annual rise in retail sales in May, driving overall sales growth lower, but sales rose rapidly in clothing, the CBI said.

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The Distribution Trades Survey showed retailers predict a pick-up in sales next month, with the index for expected June sales at +29.

"Retailers’ predictions of further sales growth bore fruit this month. Although that growth was at a slower rate than expected, the fact we’ve seen a steady increase for six consecutive months is a sign we’re heading towards sustainable growth and strengthening consumer optimism – and it’s good to hear shopkeepers telling us they expect even stronger figures next month,” said Barry Williams, Asda chief merchandising officer for food, and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel.

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