UK November sales steady but disappointing
Christmas expectations scaled back, says CBI
December 4 2002
UK retailers saw “steady but disappointing” retail sales growth in November and expect similar expansion in the build-up to Christmas.
The CBI’s quarterly survey shows that compared with a year ago, 42 per cent of firms saw sales rise in November, while 21 per cent saw a fall.
Expectations for the build-up to Christmas have been scaled back since the last survey but remain in line with average sales growth over the past 10 years. For the first time since July, sales were reported to be above average for the time of year.
Most sectors reported some growth, with strongest sales in footwear and leather goods; specialist food shops; booksellers and stationers and household goods.
Retailers are reasonably optimistic about the business situation over the next six months. Twenty-two per cent expect it to improve and 11 per cent expect a deterioration, while the majority expect it to remain stable.
Alastair Eperon, chairman of the CBI’s Distributive Trades Panel and a director of Boots, said: “Although sales growth is steady nobody expects to break any records this Christmas. The early build-up has been somewhat disappointing. With sales volumes remaining well below the levels of the first four months of this year and continued pressure on prices, retailers are cutting back on their investment in buildings and machinery over the coming 12 months.”
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