The CBI’s (Confederation of British Industry’s) latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey shows sales on the High Street are higher than expected for this time of year. The survey also picked up on a growth in orders placed upon suppliers recovered in the twelve months to December.
The survey, which measures sales activity across distributive trades, featured 118 firms of which, 61 were retailers, 49 were wholesalers, and 8 motor traders. It showed that since Black Friday, internet sales have risen at their quickest pace since April and look to stay steady into 2016.
Barry Williams, CBI Distributive Trades Chairman and Asda’s Chief Customer Officer, said, “It’s no surprise sales have recovered as we head into the final shopping days of the Christmas season. It would be ideal if the industry could keep that momentum into the New Year but retailers know 2015 was tough, and they’re expecting 2016 to start in much the same vein. Nevertheless, retailers are helping to make the pound in customers’ pockets go further, and low fuel prices should give an additional boost to consumer spending through the New Year.”
The CBI’s key findings are listed below.
- 43% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in December on a year ago, whilst 24% said they were down, giving a balance of +19%. This was an increase on the previous month (+7%), but below expectations (+31%)
- 22% of retailers expect sales volumes to increase in the year to January, with 14% expecting them to decrease, giving a rounded balance of +9%, the lowest since May 2012 (-6%)
- 34% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 26% placed fewer, giving a balance of +8%. Orders are expected to be flat next month
- Most sub-sectors saw growth in sales volumes: strong performances were reported in the non-store sector – which includes online, mail order and catalogue sales (+66%), clothing (+56%), recreational goods (+51%), and grocers (+25%).
- Volumes of internet sales in the retail sector rose solidly (+53%), to the highest survey balance since April (+55%).
- 37% of wholesalers reported sales volumes to be up on last year and 21% said they were down, giving a balance of +16%, which exceeded expectations (+7%).
- 48% of motor traders reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago, while none said they were down, giving a balance of +48%, significantly exceeding expectations (+8%).