Retailers reported that growth in sales volumes picked up in the year to June, according to the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

The survey of 115 firms, of which 59 were retailers, showed that the volume of sales and orders placed upon suppliers grew modestly – exceeding expectations in both cases – in the year to June. Overall, sales for the time of year were considered to be broadly in line with seasonal norms.

Looking ahead, however, growth in volumes of sales is expected to stall in the year to July, while orders are also expected to be flat.

Within the retail sector, grocers and non-store sectors performed particularly strongly. Internet sales volumes also picked in the year to June, with growth broadly in line with the long-run average, but retailers expect somewhat slower growth in the year to July.

Meanwhile, growth in the sales of motor vehicles turned positive again in the year to June, following the first fall in sales for three-and-a-half-years in May. However, growth was below expectations and is expected to remain subdued in the year to July.

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Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Intelligence, said:

"The start of summer has seen shoppers hit the high street, lifting sales – if only modestly.

"However, there's no getting away from the fact that life is getting tougher, with retailers clearly cautious over the near-term outlook.

"The new Government must now look to picking up the pace of delivery of much-needed reform. Retailers will want to see a full review of the distorted Business Rates system sooner rather than later."

Key findings

Retailers:

  • 23% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in June on a year ago, whilst 11% said they were down, giving a balance of +12%. This outperformed expectations (+6%)
  • 14% of respondents expect sales volumes to increase next month, with 11% expecting a decrease, giving a balance of +3%
  • 24% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, whilst 14% placed fewer orders, giving a balance of +10%
  • 9% of retailers reported that their volume of sales for the time of year were good in June, whilst 12% said they were poor, giving a rounded balance of -2%
  • Internet sales volumes continued to expand at a healthy pace (+46) in the year to June, with growth broadly in line with the long-run average
  • Sales volumes grew strongly for grocers (+32%) and non-store sectors (+53%).

Wholesalers:

  • 41% of wholesalers reported sales volumes were up in the year to June, and 16% said they were down, giving a balance of +25%, the slowest pace of growth since August 2016 (+22%). Volumes are expected to grow at an even slower pace next month (+14%)
  • The volume of orders placed upon suppliers remained robust (+20%) and is expected to increase next month (+35%).

Motor traders:

  • 40% of motor traders reported sales volumes were up in the year to June, whilst 28% said they were down, giving a rounded balance of +11%, well below expectations (+27%)
  • Volumes are expected to expand at a similar pace in the year to July (+11%).

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