Retailers hit as UK consumers stay cautious

Tim Wallace
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RETAIL sales slid in April as shoppers remained wary of making big purchases, influential survey data showed yesterday, while consumer confidence remained low.

However, retailers remained upbeat on future sales, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) distributive trades survey, indicating they expect the economy to improve.

The study shows 33 per cent of firms saw sales rise in April, outnumbered by the 39 per cent who experienced a fall, leaving a net balance of minus six per cent.

However, overall sales were as expected for the time of year, and a net balance of 19 per cent predict rising sales in May.

Meanwhile, the GfK consumer confidence index held steady at minus 31 in April, the same level it stood at a year ago. The forecast of personal finances over the next year fell three points to minus 13, while the general economic situation forecast also fell three points to minus 33.

“It is clear that much like the economy as a whole, consumer confidence is in the doldrums,” said GfK’s Nick Moon. “There are no signs to suggest any immediate improvement.”