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Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported on Tuesday its latest survey
of retailers showed retail sales volume balance fell to +23 in the year to July
from +25 in June, remaining well above the long-run average.
Economists had forecast the reading to ease to +21.
The report also revealed that retail sales volumes were expected to grow at a faster pace (+29) next month. Meanwhile, the retail orders balance increased at the quickest pace since December 2010 (+49 in July, up from +30 in June) but was seen to grow at a slower pace (+39%) in August. In other survey results, overall sales were estimated as normal for the time of year in July (balance of 0 from +23 last month) and were expected to remain broadly in line with seasonal norms next month (+3). Stock levels in relation to expected sales reached another record low in July (-21 from -19, question first asked in August 1983). Relative stock levels were also forecast to remain too low next month (-27).
“Consumer demand continues to support the UK’s economic recovery,” noted Ben Jones, Principal Economist at the CBI. “Retail sales have been at or above seasonal norms for the last four months now, although this picture is not universal, with the clothing and footwear stores in particular yet to see demand recover to usual levels. While demand may be more stable, operational issues worsen. Relative stock levels are at a record low and expected to fall further still, while the number one worry for many firms at the minute is labour shortages throughout the supply chain as staff self-isolate.”