UK’s retail sales hold steady

Julian Harris
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ACTIVITY on the UK high street is “subdued, but steady,” according to the latest research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Retail sales are “holding up about as well as can be expected,” the CBI said yesterday, after announcing that sales have remained surprisingly resilient this month.

A positive balance of 18 per cent of retailers reported a higher volume of sales, compared to 21 per cent in April when sales were boosted by the Royal Wedding.

Price pressures eased very slightly in May, yet remain extremely high by historical standards.

A positive balance of 65 per cent of traders said they were selling at higher prices in the three months to May, a minimal drop.

“We are still anticipating higher inflation later in the year,” said CBI economist Lai Wah Co.

High inflation, taxes and sluggish wage growth have squeezed British households and placed pressure on retailers.

“Family spending power is at a very low level, and with the continuing bite of rising utilities and fuel, we are not likely to see an improvement in this situation any time soon,” said Judith McKenna, chief financial officer for ASDA.

“Given these challenging consumer conditions, it is good news that retail sales growth is stable, not falling,” concluded CBI chief John Cridland.