per cent

There is no doubt about it, there is something strange in the neighbourhood.

The ONS had retail sales in May rising at their fastest year on year rate since 1986, yet all around there is gloom.   So how do you square ONS data with anecdotal evidence.   Who is right?  Who are you going to call?

Answer:  the CBI.

The CBI has just released its distributive trades survey for June.  Thirty nine  of retail respondents to its survey reported that in the first half of June sales were lower than a year ago, while 30 per cent said sales had increased.

The resulting balance is minus 9 per cent. 

Now it had been worse than that.  It was worse last month, and the month before, but that aside you have to go back to March 2006 for the last time the index was so bad.    More to the point, the CBI index has been negative for three months in a row now.

That said, 2005 was minus scores for most of the year, so really the key will be what happens over the next few months.

The ONS finding for May was perhaps something of a freak, but what is clear is that right now the High Street is bad, but apparently not that bad.  Although it does appear the big supermarkets are clearing up, at the moment.

Andy Clarke, the new chairman of the CBI’s Distributive Trades Panel, and Retail Director of Asda, said:

“High fuel prices and concerns about the economy have blunted consumer appetites, and those retailers linked to the housing market are continuing to endure difficult conditions.

“Grocers have had another strong month, and we are seeing people spend more in supermarkets as they focus on the essentials and also upgrade to higher value food ranges instead of having a night out.”
cbi high street

© Investment & Business News 2013