UK retailers plan investment boost says CBI survey, but fashion sector is tough
The latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey has shown no relief in weak retail sales during February but many retailers seem to be upbeat and are planning investment for growth this year.
For now though, fashion is struggling. “Although overall sales volumes were stable, this masked variable performances by different sub-sectors, with rising sales volumes by grocers and non-specialised stores offset by negative contributions from other sectors, primarily clothing,” The CBI said. It added that growth in internet sales slowed to a below-average rate and growth is expected to slow further March.
February sales volumes were broadly flat year-on-year for the fourth month running. Overall sales were seen as poor for the time of year (more so than in January). And orders placed with suppliers fell for the 10th consecutive month, although at a slightly slower rate than in January.
But the CBI said that retailers seem relatively cheerful. “Although sales remained flat and orders fell in the year to February, there has been a noticeable improvement in investment plans from the previous quarter, with investment intentions seeing the largest swing in the survey’s history,” its latest report explained. “This was driven by large firms and specific sectors (notably grocery, clothing and non-store retailing)”.
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