Belfast Telegraph

Retail sales pick up 'modestly' as summer draws shoppers to the high street

Retail sales exceeded expectations to pick up "modestly" as summer drew more shoppers to the high street, figures show.

However growth is expected to stall in the year to July to reflect that "life is getting tougher" for retailers, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned.

The latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey of 115 firms found that 23% of the 59 retailers included reported that sales volumes were up in June on a year ago and 11% said they were down, giving a balance of 12% to outperform expectations of 6%.

Some 14% expect sales volumes to increase next month and 11% expect a decrease, while 24% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago compared with 14% who placed fewer orders.

However just 9% of retailers reported that their sales volumes were good in June for the time of year, and 12% said they were poor.

Meanwhile, growth in car sales turned positive again in the year to June, following the first fall for three and a half years in May, the CBI said.

However, growth was below expectations and is expected to remain "subdued" in the year to July.

Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence, said: "The start of summer has seen shoppers hit the high street, lifting sales - if only modestly.

"However, there's no getting away from the fact that life is getting tougher, with retailers clearly cautious over the near-term outlook.

"The new Government must now look to picking up the pace of delivery of much-needed reform. Retailers will want to see a full review of the distorted business rates system sooner rather than later."