Economy

Retail sales fall in September but growth expected to return next month

Retail sales volumes fell in the year to September following last month’s increase, according to the latest CBI monthly Distributive Trade Survey.

The survey of 120 firms, of which 63 were retailers, showed that the volume of sales fell, despite expectations last month that sales would be largely unchanged. However, sales volumes look set to grow slightly in the year to October.

Overall, sales volumes for the time of the year were considered to be “above seasonal norms”.

The volume of orders placed upon suppliers fell for a sixth consecutive month, disappointing expectations of a rebound in order growth.

Within the retail sector, specialist food & drink and footwear & leather were the main drivers of the drop in overall volumes, while strong growth was recorded in clothing, hardware & DIY.

Meanwhile, growth in internet sales volumes slowed further in the year to September, although growth is set to pick up in October.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, said: “September is normally an important month for retailers and it’s encouraging to see that sales of clothing, DIY goods and hardware are above seasonal norms.

“However, consumer confidence has been dented since earlier in 2016 and higher inflation is likely to squeeze household incomes over the year ahead. With margins remaining tight, retailers are set to continue to operate in a fiercely competitive environment for some time.”

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