Market news

23 February 2021

Decline in UK retail sales volumes ease less than expected in February - CBI

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported on Tuesday its latest survey of retailers showed retail sales volume balance stood at -45 in the year to February, up from -50 in January. 

Economist had forecast the reading to improve to -38.

In addition, retail sales volumes are expected to drop at a steeper pace in the year to March (-62).

The report also revealed that the retail orders balance also decreased (balance of -36, from -45 in January) with an even sharper decline seen next month (-44). Meanwhile, internet sales increased at a record pace (balance of +75, from 43 in January), providing relief for some retailers; another historically strong performance expected in the year to March (+78).

In other survey results, employment in the retail sector dropped for the 17th consecutive quarter and at a faster pace than in the year to November (balance of -44, from -32 in November), and similar fall is anticipated in the year to March (-44). Investment intentions for the quarter ahead stabilized compared to November (balance of -2, from -19 in November).

“With lockdown measures still in place, trading conditions remain extremely difficult for retailers,” noted Ben Jones, CBI Principal Economist. “Record growth in internet shopping suggests that retailers’ investments in on-line platforms and click-and-collect services maybe paying off, but the re-opening of the sector can’t come soon enough to protect jobs and breathe life back into the sector.”

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