UK retail sales were lower in October compared with a year earlier, although retailers expect a modest improvement in sales next month in the run-up to Christmas, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said.
Almost one in three retailers have seen a drop in sales since last year.
The business group’s distributive trades survey found that 24 per cent of retailers said sales volumes were higher in October compared with last year, while an alarming 36 per cent said sales were lower.
Ian McCafferty, CBI Chief Economic Adviser, said: “High street sales remain difficult but the decline has stabilised, and retailers expect there to be some very modest growth next month in the build-up to Christmas.
“Family budgets continue to be stretched because of a combination of high inflation, low wage growth and soaring unemployment, so consumer confidence is severely dented. High-street retailers are heavily discounting as they aim to provide the best possible value on basics, but consumers will continue on the back foot as real incomes remain squeezed.
“However, price pressures will likely ease next year as the impact of the VAT rise on inflation falls away,” he added.
The volume of sales was poor for the time of the year at -34 per cent. Sales volumes in most sub-sectors declined: there was a 98 per cent drop in footwear and leather, 75 per cent in hardware & DIY and 39 per cent in clothing. However, both grocery and furniture & carpets sectors saw an 11 per cent increase in sales.