Strengthening retail sales continue into March


Small majority of retailers say sales are up on same month last year.

The Confederation of British Industry has released an upbeat trading statement that shows retail sales growing for the second month on UK high streets, and a prediction that revenues will continue to rise through Easter.

The organisation’s latest Distributive Trades Survey found that 39 percent of retailers said that sales volumes in early March were higher when compared against the same period in 2009, and 26 percent said they were lower.

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The resulting balance of +13 percent was broadly in line with expectations, though marks a slowing on February’s strong sales report when 23 percent more retailers said that sales were up than those that said they were down.

Looking ahead to April, a balance of 14 percent of retailers expects that sales will be higher than they were a year ago.

"Despite not matching the strength seen in February, it’s encouraging that high street sales have continued to grow this month. The outlook for Easter may still be positive but, with a weak economy and pay freezes for many, consumers are likely to remain cautious for some time, said Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and CEO of Asda.

Sales were described as poor for the time of year by a net 6 percent of retailers, and a similar balance expects sales to remain below the seasonal norm next month.

Retailers suggested that orders from suppliers were up, with a net 7 percent reporting an increase in orders. Orders are expected to grow at a similar rate next month.

A small majority of retailers said that stock levels were more than adequate to meet predicted demand. Stock adequacy has stayed below its long-run average since May 2009, and next month stocks are expected to be broadly adequate relative to expected demand.


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