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Retail sales fall again in May

Retail sales were down again in May, according to the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey. The survey found retailers general sentiment to be at its least negative for a year, however.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Retail sales fall again in May

Retail sales were down again in May, according to the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey. The survey found retailers general sentiment to be at its least negative for a year, however.

It found that 31 per cent of retailers said year-on-year sales volumes in the first half of May were up, while 48 per cent said they were down. The -17 per cent balance was close to market

expectations and, apart from a positive 'blip' in April was the least negative result since June 2008.

More than a third (36 per cent) of retailers said sales were poor for the time of year, though more of them are optimistic about sales in June. Nearly a third of retailers have reduced staff headcount.

“Conditions were tough again in May for retailers, proving April's better sales figure was a temporary blip,” sats CBI Distributive Trades Panel chairman and Asda chief operating officer Andy Clarke. “As for much of this year, supermarkets and shoe shops were the ones seeing decent growth. Sectors more dependent of people's house moves continued to see falling sales.”

“Businesses of all types are looking to reduce stock levels during the recession, to adjust to lower demand and to improve cashflow. Retailers' efforts appear to be having an impact, with stock levels lower relative to expected demand, which should help improve conditions along the supply chain,” says CBI chief economic advisor Ian McCafferty.

“Retailers are less pessimistic about their general business situation, and the decline in demand now appears to be slowing compared with the turn of the year. However, with unemployment still rising, conditions will remain tough,” adds McCafferty.

The Dsitributive Trades Survey covers 20,000 outlets.

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