High Street sales were flat in the year to November, disappointing retailers’ expectations for the second consecutive month, the CBI has said.
Department stores, grocers and clothing shops were among the worst hit by the lower than expected sales, according the company’s latest Quarterly Distributive Trades Survey of 129 firms.
35 per cent of respondents reported that sales were up one year ago, while 34 per cent said they were down – giving a balance of one per cent, well below the expected 23 per cent.
Many sub-sectors saw a decline in sales growth, department stores down 28 per cent, grocers down 20 per cent and clothing down 15 per cent.
Despite two disappointing months for sales, employment in the sector has increased in the year to November, with retailers continuing to expect the business situation to improve in the quarter ahead.
Barry Williams, Asda chief merchandising officer for food, and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel, said: "This is the second month in a row that retailers’ expectations for growth have been disappointed, perhaps due in part of the mild start to autumn.
"But despite challenging conditions on the high street, retailers remain optimistic for the Christmas period, and have taken on more employees in anticipation of a shopping rush that should add jingle to the tills."