High Street Sales “sluggish” says CBI

The volume of high street sales rose in April compared with a year ago but sales are still “sluggish”, according to the CBI.

The findings in the CBI’s latest Distributive Trades Survey, which covers the two-week period from 30 March, revealed that 45% of retailers saw the volume of sales rise in the year to April, while 24% said they fell. Strong performers include clothing and food with household goods, electrical items and footwear doing less well.

However, sales in April were considered poor for the time of year — they were the lowest since August 2009. The report says that no growth in sales volumes is expected in May as retailers expect that sales will remain well below seasonal norms.

Sarah Cordley, spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium, points out that the CBI survey did not cover the whole of April:

“Our figures for March were very bad and showed a significant contraction. But we are optimistic that the good weather and two holiday weekends should prove to have been a good boost for retailers, particularly in food and DIY.”

But Cordley expects this to be short-lived.

“Consumer confidence is very poor and people’s disposable income is falling so consumer spending in May is likely to fall again. We expect the retail sector to have a pretty tough time in the months to come.”

Catherine Pilling, owner of Itch Gallery in Oakham, Rutland, which sells hand-made arts and crafts, said:

“Sales in April have been disappointing. Because of the good weather and the Easter holidays people have been away or outdoors rather than shopping.”

But she is optimistic that sales will pick up and holds regular events to bring in more customers.

“These work really well and help spread news of the shop through word of mouth.”

High Street Sales are “sluggish” despite an upturn in April says CBI

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