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25.02.2020 19:24

UK retail sales volumes improve marginally in February - CBI

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported on Tuesday its latest survey of retailers showed retail sales volume balance rose to 1 in February from 0 in January. That marked the fourth consecutive month of broadly flat retail sales volume (following a period of falling sales from mid-2019) but represented the highest balance since April 2019.

Economists had forecast the reading to increase to 4.

The report also revealed that retailers expect the retail sales volumes to remain broadly flat in the year to March (-3). Meanwhile, orders placed with suppliers dropped for the tenth consecutive month (balance of -13), with retailers expecting a faster decline next month (-22). Despite this, investment outlook improved noticeably from the previous quarter, with investment intentions seeing the largest swing since the start of the survey in 1983, with the balance reaching its highest since November 2010 (+26, from -38 in November).

Ben Jones, CBI Principal Economist, noted: "The prospects for a recovery in investment in the retail sector are on the up. This is particularly the case among large retailers, driven by shifts online and the trend for re-purposing retail space. But the first months of 2020 haven't brought a tangible change in fortunes on the high street. Conditions remain tough, especially for smaller retailers, and that won't be changing anytime soon. Retailers will be looking to the new Chancellor to recognise the challenges facing the sector in his upcoming Budget."


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