Growth in high street sales continue, according to the Confederation of British Industry, CBI. Compared with a year earlier retail sales have grown for a third consecutive month, and the high street expects a similar increase in May, the CBI said in May, the CBI said today. Responding to its latest Distributive Trades Survey, 43% of retailers said that sales volumes in early April were higher than they were over the same period in 2009, while 30% said they were lower. The resulting balance of +13% matched that in March and was broadly in line with businesses’ expectations. A balance of 17% of retailers anticipates year-on-year growth in May.

The three month moving average of sales volumes stayed positive for the sixth month running (a balance of +16%) and is projected to stay at the same level in May. A net 11% of retailers described sales as poor for the time of year, although they are expected to be more broadly in line with seasonal norms in May (+3%).

There was little change in the volume of orders placed on suppliers (+1%), and a balance of 8% of firms expect orders to grow next month. A net 6% of retailers said that stock levels were more than adequate to cover expected demand. In May, stocks are forecast to be broadly in line with predicted sales.

Looking at the individual retail sectors: grocers, footwear & leather shops and durable household goods retailers reported strong annual sales growth. Clothing shops and furniture & carpet retailers saw a much slower pace of sales growth by comparison. And hardware, china & DIY sales stabilised after three months of sharp falls.

Andy Clarke, Chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and Chief Operating Officer of Asda, said: “Spring has landed on the high street with some modest but welcome sales growth, and that improvement is expected to carry on into early May.

“However, the UK economy remains in a fragile place, and last week’s higher unemployment figures will have unsettled many shoppers.”

Image: High Street

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