Weak increase in sales points to a miserable summer for retailers

Julian Harris
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THE SQUEEZE on British consumers continued to hit the retail sector in July, according to a widely-regarded business survey released yesterday.

Sales growth in the opening two weeks of the month was significantly weaker than shopkeepers had expected, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed.

While 44 per cent of surveyed retailers told the CBI that sales volumes were higher than a year ago, a third said that sales were lower. Retailers had predicted a balance of plus 32 per cent, far higher than the plus 11 per cent that the figures showed.

“Sales continued to be below average for the time of year – with a balance of minus 14 per cent – while, relative to expected demand, stock levels also rose,” the report said.

And Barclays’ head of retail, Richard Lowe, warned: “With growth easing the high street will have to fight hard for consumer’s cash in the coming weeks.”