UK retailers enjoy steady growth in March

Retail sales volumes grew at a steady pace in the year to March, and slightly faster than expected, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey.

In a survey of 65 retailers, 44% said that sales volumes were up on a year ago, whilst 35% said they were down, giving a balance of +9%

Nearly a quarter (24%) of retailers said the volume of sales were good for the time of year, but 31% said they were poor, giving a balance of -6% – the lowest survey balance since July 2016.

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Online sales volumes picked up in the year to March (+49% from +42%) and growth is set to continue in the year to April.

Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Intelligence, said: “It’s encouraging to see that sales volumes growth is holding up and expectations have strengthened.

“However, retailers continue to be squeezed by rising cost pressures on the one hand, and intense competition on the other, which will limit their ability to raise prices. With household spending growth set to slow as inflation rises, retailers seem likely to remain under pressure through this year.”

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