September retail sales reveal mixed picture

The volume of sales on the high street in September was lower than this time a year ago, but the pace of decline has stabilised, the CBI said today.

The CBI’s latest Distributive Trades Survey reveals that a quarter of retailers saw sales volumes increase year-on-year, while 39% reported a fall. That gives a balance of -15%, which the CBI says is the weakest since May 2010 (when a balance of -18% was recorded).

Although sales volumes growth was virtually unchanged on August (-14%), it was slightly weaker than expected.

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The three-month moving average of sales, which smoothes out volatility in the monthly figures, also declined by 11% — the fastest rate since August 2009 (-16%).

The fall in volumes was felt across almost all of the main sub-sectors including department stores,
clothing and leather goods retailers.

Looking ahead to next month, sales volumes are expected to decline at a similar rate (-14%).

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and ASDA COO, said: “High street sales are sluggish but appear to be stabilising. However consumer confidence continues to be bruised by a combination of low wage growth, high prices and rising unemployment.”

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