There was modest high-street sales growth in the year to January, according to the latest CBI Monthly Distributive Trades Survey.
However, fortunes were mixed across the different sectors: grocers and furniture & carpets retailers saw sales volumes rise, whereas clothing retailers, which have been affected by unseasonably mild weather, have seen sales slump.
The CBI’s newly published data on internet sales volumes shows that they continued to rise steadily over the same period – in line with the series average (since August 2009).
Retailers are expecting moderate sales growth again next month.
Elsewhere, there was strong sales growth in the wholesale sector and decent growth among motor traders.
Barry Williams, Asda Chief Merchandising Officer for Food, and Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel, said:
“At a time of year when shoppers are recovering from the excesses of Christmas and watching their spending carefully, it’s encouraging that high street sales have continued to grow.
“Grocers outperformed relative to other retail sectors, and online shopping growth has remained steady.
“While retailers predict some modest growth ahead, the prospect of continually slow pay growth is likely to mean cautious consumers for some time to come.”
· 33% of retailers said that sales were up on a year ago while 19% said they fell, giving a balance of +14%
· 32% expect sales to grow next month while 17% expect them to decrease, giving a balance of +15%
· Grocers (+50%) and furniture & carpet retailers (+44%) saw strong sales performance, while clothing and footwear & leather retailers saw a decline in sales (-55% and -14%)
· 29% placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 31% placed fewer, giving a balance of -2%.
Firms selling over the internet
· 63% of retailers said that internet sales volumes were up on a year ago, while 11% said that they were down, giving a balance of +52%. This was a similar rise to that in December 2013 (+51%), and in line with the series average (since August 2009)
· Internet sales are expected to rise at a similar pace next month: 63% expect them to be up on a year ago and 12% below, giving a balance of +51%
· 72% of retailers said that they sold goods over the internet, unchanged for the third month running.
· 49% of wholesalers reported that sales were up on a year ago while 16% said they were down, giving a balance of +33%
· Industrial materials (+67%), building materials (+60%) and durable household goods saw strong sales performance, while food & drink wholesalers saw sales decline (-17%).
· 33% of motor traders saw sales volumes increase on a year ago while 8% said they fell, giving a balance of +25%.