Subdued Christmas shopping forecast after October sales fall
Retail sales fell in the year to October and shopkeepers expect only very modest growth in the run-up to Christmas, according to the Confederation of British Industry.
The employers’ body said its “Distributive Trades Survey” found that 24% of companies saw sales volumes rise on a year ago while 36% fell, the resulting -15% balance compared with -15% the previous month.
The CBI said the volume of sales was poor for the time of year and the worst since May 2009. It noted particularly rapid falls in footwear & leather, hardware & DIY and clothing.
“High street sales remain difficult but the decline has stabilised, and retailers expect there to be some very modest growth next month in the build-up to Christmas,” CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty said.
"Family budgets continue to be stretched because of a combination of high inflation, low wage growth and soaring unemployment, so consumer confidence is severely dented.”
Howard Archer of the analyst group IHS Global Insight said the results of the survey were slightly better than expected though still indicating a “reluctant” consumer.
“While retailers are hoping that there may be modest growth in retail sales in November, it remains hard to be optimistic about the prospects for consumer spending in the near term at least given sharply squeezed purchasing power, mounting unemployment, depressed confidence and a moribund housing market,” he said.
“Retailers will be desperately hoping that consumers will decide to put their troubles to one side and loosen their purse strings to have a good Christmas!”