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Retail

UK Retail Sales Rise After 10 Months Of Falls, CBI Says

By Reuters
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UK Retail Sales Rise After 10 Months Of Falls, CBI Says

British retail sales edged up in March after falling in the previous 10 months but stores expect sales volumes to slip again in April, according to industry figures which echoed official data published last week.

The Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) monthly retail sales balance, a gauge of sales over the year to March, rose to +2 from -7 in February.

But retailers expected the decline in sales to resume in April at -25.

"The stabilisation of retail sales in March should give some hope that the sector’s downturn is bottoming out," Martin Sartorius, CBI principal economist, said.

"The earlier timing of Easter will likely mean weaker year-on-year sales in April, but easing inflation should support retail spending going forward," he added.

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Steady Sales

Official data last week showed British retail sales held steady in February, defying forecasts of a fall. Other surveys have pointed to a stabilisation in the economy as inflation slows and with interest rates likely to come down this year.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 'sales volumes in clothing and department stores grew because of new collections but falls in food stores and fuel retailers offset this growth.'

Food store sales volumes declined by 0.3% over the month, following a recovery in January from the record fall experienced in December 2023, the ONS added.

The CBI survey, which is not seasonally adjusted, showed retailers cut orders to suppliers this month and expect to do so again in April. The survey was based on responses from 72 retailers.

Elsewhere, a GfK industry survey showed that British consumer sentiment held steady in March but households turned positive about the outlook for their personal finances for the first time in more than two years.

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