Retailers disappoint with first fall in sales since last summer

City A.M. Reporter
RETAIL sales fell in April for the first time in eight months, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry showed yesterday.

The sales balance in the CBI’s monthly distributive trades survey dropped to minus one from zero in March, its weakest since August. Analysts had expected a modest rise on the back of Easter spending.

The expected sales balance for May dropped to minus six, its lowest since February 2012.

Clothing and footwear sellers saw the biggest drop in sales in the month, while furniture sellers and non-store retailers such as online shops experienced the strongest growth.

Wholesalers also disappointed forecasters with a net balance of 26 per cent reporting a drop in sales.

“Retailers were frustrated this month by the ongoing stagnation in sales growth,” said Barry Williams, an executive at supermarket chain Asda and chair of the CBI panel.

“This may be explained in part by the unseasonal weather we suffered, but there is no doubt that high street conditions are tricky with consumers lacking the confidence to go out and spend.”