Thursday 25 July 2019 11:55 am

Retail sales decline for longest stretch in eight years

Retail sales have fallen for the longest period in eight years, new research has revealed, in the latest sign of gloom on the high street. 

Sales volumes fell for the third consecutive month in the year to July, marking the longest decline since 2011, according to the latest CBI monthly Distributive Trades Survey.

Read more: Demand for London retail property falls

In total, 26 per cent of retailers surveyed by the CBI said sales volumes were up in July compared to a year a go, while 42 per cent said they were down, giving a balance of -16 per cent. 

The decline is slower than the -27 per cent reported in May and the -42 per cent figure given in June. 

However, the CBI’s June survey was weaker than the Office for National Statistics retail sales figures which showed growth of one per cent month-on-month. 

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “We continue to expect growth in retail sales and households’ overall spending to retain its recent momentum in the second half of this year. 

“Consumers’ confidence in the outlook for their personal finances is above its long-run average, CPI inflation is set to fall below the 2 per cent target over the coming months, and firms still are adding to their headcounts, albeit at a slower rate than last year.”

Orders placed with suppliers also declined for the third month in a row. 

Meanwhile, growth in online sales recovered after flattening in the year to June, although the rate is below the long-run average. 

Read more: More than 70,000 retail jobs lost amid high street struggles

CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said: “Despite the recent pick-up we’ve seen in households’ real earnings, the sun is clearly not shining on the British High Street. 

“The UK economy has reached a fork in the road. The new prime minister must now do everything in his power to achieve a good Brexit deal, thus protecting jobs and our economy.”