October sees boost to retail sector

Tuesday, 30 October 2012
It hasn't been all doom and gloom for retailers since the Olympics. In the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey, covering the first two and a half weeks of October, 47 per cent of retailers reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago and 17 per cent stated that sales had fallen.

The resulting balance well exceeded expectations, and was the fastest rate of sales growth since June, which saw sales rise 42 per cent. Looking ahead, retailers expect growth in sales volumes to be similarly robust in the year to November.

In line with rising sales, the volume of orders placed on suppliers increased moderately at 4 per cent, compared to expectations of being flat.

Despite the second consecutive month of sales growth, high-street retailers still considered the volume of sales to be below average for the time of year. However, sales were below seasonal norms to the least extent since April, and the survey balance was a little better than expected.

There was solid growth in a number of individual retail sectors and sales of fashion and clothing reported the greatest year-on-year increases in sales at 57 per cent, with the clothing sector posting the first sales growth since July. Footwear & leather sector remained strong, with sales increasing 39 per cent for the seventh consecutive month.

Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Analysis, said: “It is great news that last month’s sales growth has continued into October, at a much faster pace than expected, and that this momentum is expected to continue next month too. Falling inflation has somewhat eased pressures on family budgets, so that households are a little more willing to spend. But there’s still a risk that on-going uncertainty over the global economic outlook could dent consumer confidence, hitting prospects for the retail sector, while the scope for inflation to fall further is limited.”

Image: Footwear shopper