Retail sales unexpectedly slip but next month could be mega

Jessica Morris
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Retailers are gearing up for bumper sales in March (Source: Getty)

Retail sales unexpectedly slowed in the year to April, but retailers are gearing up for a sharp rise next month, with expectations hitting the highest level since May last year.

The latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey of 122 firms showed 30 per cent said retail sales were up on a year ago, while 18 per cent said they were down, giving a final balance of 12 per cent.

This represents a slight slowdown from 18 per cent last month, and came in below expectations of 21 per cent. They were held back by a fall in the grocer's sector, nonetheless most other sectors reported rising sales, especially hardware & DIY, clothing, furniture and chemists.

"With the mixed news we’ve been seeing from the high street recently it’s perhaps not surprising that retailers have reported varied fortunes this month," Barry Williams, the CBI's Distributive Trades Survey chairman said.

Despite this, retailers are gearing up for a busy May, with 40 per cent saying they expect to make more sales.

"Despite April's modestly softer CBI survey, the prospects for retail sales and consumer spending look largely bright," Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS said.

"Consumer confidence is relatively elevated, employment is high and rising, inflation is negligible and earnings growth is trending up."

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