Retail

UK Retailers Report October Rebound But Outlook Bleak: CBI

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British retail sales rebounded this month, according to an industry survey published on Thursday that contrasted with other, gloomier gauges of the consumer economy.

The Confederation of British Industry's monthly retail sales balance, which mostly covers major shop chains, rose to +18 in October from -20 in September.

Other data - including spending card figures published on Thursday - painted a more downbeat picture.

"The reported sales balance likely was depressed in September by the additional public holiday for the Queen’s funeral, so it was always likely to rebound," Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics consultancy, said.

The CBI survey suggested there would be an October rebound in official sales volumes too, even though the broader outlook for consumer confidence remained resolutely downbeat.

Credit and debit card data from the Office for National Statistics showed spending fell during the week to 20 October to 97.5% of its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Spending on delayable items - such as luxury goods and furniture - was especially weak.

Consumer Spending

Adjusted for inflation, consumer spending on this measure stands 14% below its pre-pandemic level, with a drop of almost 30% for delayables.

The near-collapse on Wednesday of online furniture retailer Made.com – valued at just over £2 million on Thursday having listed on the stock exchange last year at £775 million – underlined the tough environment for British retailers.

Over two-thirds of British adults are planning to cut back on festive spending this year due to a worsening cost-of-living crisis, according to a survey published earlier on Thursday.

Despite enduring two Christmases under at least some social restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, three quarters of adults are not planning a big celebration, the survey by Accenture showed.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. For more retail news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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