Economy

UK Retail Sales Decline Sharply In October: CBI

UK Retail Sales Decline Sharply In October: CBI

United Kingdom retail sales have slipped at their sharpest rate since the height of the global financial crisis, according to the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

Exactly half of retailers said volumes were down in October compared to a year ago.

The department store confirmed the closure of two stores, in Eltham, south London and at Farnborough, Hampshire, affecting about 80 jobs, as high street sales continue to fall.

Motor traders saw a sharp decline in sales volumes, and expect a further fall in the year to November.

A monthly report by the CBI found that 50 per cent of retailers said sales fell in October while only 15 per cent recorded a rise, leaving a rounded balance of minus 36 per cent, the lowest level since March 2009.

"It's clear retailers are beginning to really feel the pinch from higher inflation", Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, said.

She added that it was a critical time for a sector employing three million people across the country and the Government could provide some relief by trimming an expected rise in business rates.

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Asda, meanwhile, has put over 3,000 workers into consultation in its underperforming stores, saying new till technology and other changes to how the business operates mean it will need fewer staff on the shop floor.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said the pace of job reductions in the sector was "gathering steam". And, despite fears to the contrary, there's little evidence that these wage increases are coming at the expense of other wage-related benefits.

Policy makers are still widely expected to act, though, especially after official growth figures for the third quarter this week showed a slight improvement in the pace of expansion to 0.4%.

"The survey often is a poor guide because it includes only 49 retailers reporting whether sales are higher or lower than a year ago exclusively in the first two weeks of the month".

"That said, compelling reasons exist to expect consumers to tighten their purse strings over the final months of 2017".

Sainsbury's became the most recent supermarket to say it was letting staff go when it said it was cutting 2,000 jobs as part of its aim to save £500m over the next three years.


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