British Retail Sales Fall At Fastest Pace Since 2008: CBI

The Confederation of British Industry's monthly gauge of retailers fell at its fastest pace in over 10 years

The Confederation of British Industry's monthly gauge of retailers fell at its fastest pace in over 10 years

Retail sales in the United Kingdom fell at their fastest rate since the financial crisis in the year to August, according to the latest data from the Confederation of British Industry.

Only 10% of retailers who responded to the survey reported an increase in sales, while 58% said sales had fallen - the second-weakest reading since the business group introduced the survey in 1983.

Retailers expect the biggest deterioration in business conditions since February 2009 in months ahead. A net 10 percent expects sales volumes to fall at a slower pace next month.

Not since the financial crisis has the outlook for United Kingdom retailers been so gloomy.

Official retail sales data have painted a more upbeat picture than most other private sector surveys including the CBI's, although some gauges of consumer morale are starting to weaken.

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Despite this, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) demonstrated stronger-than-expected growth of over 3% for retail sales in July, compared with the same month past year.

CBI deputy chief economist Anna Leach said: "Sentiment is crumbling among retailers, and unexpectedly weak sales have led to a large overhang of stocks".

Last week the Office for National Statistics' survey, which covers the online industry more comprehensively, found that web sales increased in July, while department stores, long considered a dying breed on the high street, notched up their first increase this year. "Businesses will be looking for government action in the budget in the coming months to alleviate some of these pressures".

Reacting to the poor CBI retail sales data, Howard Archer, chief economist of the EY Item Club, said: "Admittedly, actual retail sales have recently tended to be stronger than indicated by ths CBI's survey and latest actual data from the ONS show retail sales held up pretty well in July".

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