Retail sales fall in March: CBI
Written by Peter Walker
Retail sales volumes fell in the year to March, compounding a subdued start to 2019, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Its survey of 105 firms, of which 50 were retailers, showed retail sales volumes fell by 18 per cent, the fastest contraction in 17 months and marking a four-month run in which sales have not grown.
The CBI noted that it is possible that year-on-year sales growth in March has been distorted by the later timing of Easter this year. Sales volumes actually rose further above average for the time of year - up 13 per cent from a four per cent rise in February - and are expected to remain above seasonal norms of 12 per cent in April.
Year-on-year growth in internet sales slowed in March to 21 per cent - the lowest rate in 12 months - although growth is expected to pick up again to 31 per cent in the year to April.
Last week, the Office for National Statistics revealed online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 17.6 per cent in February from the 18.8 per cent in January 2019 – although this was a year-on-year increase of 9.4 per cent when compared with February 2018.
Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence, said that even accounting for Easter timing, the High Street’s poor run continues. “While real wage growth is picking up, consumer confidence has been hit by escalating uncertainty over Brexit and concern over the economy’s future.
“The pain currently being felt on the High Street is yet another reason why it is so vitally important politicians agree a deal in parliament that is acceptable to the EU and protects our economy.”