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3:59 AM 25th September 2021
business

Growth In Retail Sales And Orders Eases In Year To September – CBI Monthly Distributive Trades Survey

Image by Ahmad Ardity
Image by Ahmad Ardity
Retail sales grew at the weakest pace since March 2021 in the year to September, according to the latest CBI monthly Distributive Trades Survey, while growth in orders placed with suppliers also slowed. Sales and orders are expected to rise at a faster rate in October.

The survey of 126 companies, including 45 retailers, found that respondents viewed sales as poor for the time of year for the first time since March 2021. Sales are expected to be broadly average for the time of year in October.

Internet sales growth slowed in the year to September and has now been below the long-run average for five consecutive months, with a similar pace of growth expected in the year to October.

Meanwhile, wholesalers experienced an uptick in growth in the year to September and expected a similar rate next month. Motor traders saw growth in sales volumes ease but expected it to pick up next month.

Stock levels relative to expected sales across the distribution sector hit a survey record low for the sixth consecutive month. Stocks were seen as too low in all three major sub-sectors, although for retailers this was to a lesser extent than last month.

Ben Jones, CBI Principal Economist, said:
“Demand cooled for retailers in the year to September after running red hot over the summer, pushing sales below seasonal norms for the first time since March. But volumes are expected to return to more typical levels for the time of year next month.

“Low stock adequacy remains a concern across the distribution sector. Respondents to our survey have told us that they do not expect the transport and production issues that are causing these shortages to ease significantly until at least next year and, in some cases, beyond.

“The Government should take steps to relieve some of the pressure on the distribution sector to ensure we don’t face shortages of key goods in the coming months. This should start with immediately reviewing and updating the Shortage Occupation List, including adding HGV drivers.”

Key findings (all figures are weighted balances):

Retail

Retail sales grew at the slowest pace since March in the year to September (+11% from +60%) but are expected to grow at a faster rate next month (+29%).
Retail orders grew at a slower pace in the year to September (+20% from +68%), with a slight acceleration expected next month (+24%).
Sales were seen as poor for the time of year in September (-11% from +26%) and are expected to be broadly average for the time of year in October (-2%).
Stock levels in relation to expected sales were seen as too low for the fifth consecutive month in September, albeit to a lesser extent than last month (-11% from -21%) and are expected to remain too low next month (-13%).
Internet sales slowed in the year to September (+26% from +34%), with a similar rate expected next month (+24%).

Wholesalers and motor trade

Wholesalers reported a slightly faster rate of growth compared to last month (+32% from +28%) and expect a similar rate of growth next month (+31%).
Motor traders saw growth ease (+19% from +47%). Growth is expected to pick up next month (+49%).
Distribution

The volume of stocks in relation to expected demand hit a new survey record low for the sixth consecutive month (-23% from -22%, question first asked on a monthly basis from January 1985) and expect a further deterioration next month (-24%).