High street sales growth slowed markedly in the year to June, although the pace is expected to pick up next month. That’s according to the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey.
The survey of 133 firms showed that although sales growth in June disappointed retailers’ expectations, sales rose above average for the time of year.
Among the retail sub-sectors, clothing was the main drag on the slowing of sales growth, with clothes sales falling for the first time since January. Annual sales growth in grocers slowed for the second month running. However, specialist food & drink sales rose marginally in the year to June.
Internet sales volumes in the retail sector rose solidly, but remained below the long-run average for a second consecutive month.
Sales in both the motor trades and wholesale sectors grew strongly, although the latter rose at a slower rate than expected. Both sectors expect sales to increase robustly in the year to July.
Barry Williams, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel and Asda SVP and chief merchandising officer for Food, said: “After a recent improved run for the high street, a fall in clothing and food sales has contributed to a disappointing month.
“Whilst it seems that hopes that retail spending would be boosted by a strong performance by England at the World Cup were as over ambitious as aspirations for a good performance, I’m reassured that consumer confidence is still on the up, as household budgets are being bolstered by falling inflation.
“However, whilst discretionary income is still on the rise, slow wage growth continues to weigh on how much consumers are willing to go out and spend.”
· 29% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in June on a year ago, whilst 24% said they were down, giving a rounded balance of +4%. This was below expectations (+29%)
· 27% of retailers expect sales volumes to increase over the next month, with 10% expecting them to decrease, giving a rounded balance of +17%
· 26% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 19% placed fewer, giving a balance of +7%. This is expected to grow further next month (balance of +10%)
· 19% of retailers said that their total retail sales volumes were above average for the time of year, whilst 11% said they were below average, giving a balance of +8%
· Sales volumes grew in footwear & leather (+100%), the non-store sector (+61%), furniture & carpets (+41%), grocers (+25%), and hardware & DIY (+22%)
· Sales volumes decreased in non-specialised (i.e. department stores) (-64%), chemists (-25%), recreational goods (-25%) and clothing (-17%)
· Total internet sales volumes in the retail sector rose solidly (+39%), but remained below the long-run average (+52%)
· 45% of wholesalers reported sales volumes to be up on last year and 22% said they were down, giving a balance of +23%.
· Building materials (+80%) and industrial materials (+54%) had the strongest showings
· 89% of motor traders reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago, while none said they were down, giving a balance of +89%, broadly in line with expectations (+86%)
· Orders on suppliers also grew strongly (+89%).