Retail sales showed solid annual growth in April, but the outlook is grim, with stores planning to cut orders with suppliers in anticipation of a weak May, a survey by the CBI business lobby showed.
The CBI distributive trades survey’s April sales balance unexpectedly rose to a four-month high of +21, up from +15 in March. Analysts had forecast a fall to +13.
However, the expected sales balance for May sank to its lowest since June last year at -1, and the reported volume of sales for the time of year was deeply negative at -23, only a shade higher than March’s reading.
“Despite the slightly better year-on-year sales growth in April, this survey shows things are far from rosy on the high street. For the third month in a row, retailers considered sales to be unseasonably poor,” said CBI chief economic advisor Ian McCafferty.
Retailers expected sales in May to be their worst since September 2009, once the time of year was taken into account.
“With few signs of demand picking up rapidly in the coming months, conditions on the high street look like remaining tough,” he added. “Stocks are running quite high and orders with suppliers are expected to fall.”
The survey was conducted between 30 March and 13 April, finishing more than a week before Easter