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EU vote aftermath sees high street sales fall at fastest rate since 2012

By Josie Clarke

Published 28/07/2016

Summer high street sales fell at their fastest pace in more than four years this month, figures show.

Weak consumer confidence was the likely reason for the drop in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, but the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned against reading “too much too soon”.

The CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey found 24% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in July compared with a year earlier, while 38% said they were down, giving a rounded balance of -14%.

It found sales volumes declined more rapidly than at any time since January 2012, and companies expect a decline at a broadly similar pace next month.

Sales by grocers, furniture and carpets stores were the main drivers of the drop in overall volumes, but non-specialised department stores and footwear and leather goods retailers reported higher volumes.

Orders placed on suppliers dropped at the quickest pace since March 2009 and are expected to fall further in August.

But CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said the survey may reflect consumers’ initial caution in the immediate period after the Brexit vote.

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