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Feb 24, 2022
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Inflation an issue for shoppers in February, but sales above seasonal norms - CBI

Published
Feb 24, 2022

UK retail sales volumes rose above seasonal norms in February, as shoppers returned to high streets on the diminishing threat of Omicron, the latest Confederation of British Industry (CBI) quarterly Distributive Trades Survey shows.


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However, selling prices continued to grow at a rapid pace in the year to February, with a slight acceleration expected in the coming month, the survey of 115 companies, including 46 retailers, revealed. 

The CBI’s figures consist of weighted balances so a plus percentage means more businesses answered that sales were up than down to any of the CBI's questions. A minus figure reverses that.

So what was the result for last month? Retail sales volumes in February stood at (+16%), following a weaker-than-normal January (-23%). Seasonal sales are expected to be average in March (-1%).

Retail selling prices continued to grow rapidly in the year to February (+75% from +77% in November) with a slight acceleration expected next month (+81%). 

Internet sales declined in the year to February (-11% from -2% in January). This is only the second time in survey history that internet sales have fallen (August 2009). Sales are expected to be broadly flat next month (-2%). 

Retail stocks in relation to expected sales were seen as slightly poor, despite improving on last month (-4% from -11% in January). Expectations are for stock positions to strengthen slightly next month (+4%). 

Employment growth slowed in the year to February (+8% from +19% in November). Head counts are expected to grow at a similar pace next month (+5%). 
Investment intentions for the next 12 months (compared to the last 12) remain strong, to a broadly similar degree to last quarter (+30% from +31% in November).   

Martin Sartorius, Principal Economist at the CBI, said: “The easing of Covid-19 restrictions – including the end of work-from-home guidance – has, unsurprisingly, encouraged shoppers to return to the high streets. 

“There are other challenges facing retailers however. Conflict in Ukraine means energy prices and transport costs will rise further, adding more pressure on retailers’ operating costs and biting into households’ spending power.” 

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