Retail sales remain flat in March

Latest CBI survey suggests the High Street could be stabilising.
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The CBI’s latest Distributive Sales Survey, which covers the four weeks to March 14th, found that 33 per cent of retailers saw sales volumes up on 2011.

However, another 33 per cent reported a fall in sales.

While cumulative sales were not significantly up on February the CBI said that the “resulting balance of zero suggests sales on the High Street may be stabilising.”

The survey measures sales activity across the distributive trades.

27 per cent of firms said sales were still low for this time of year and 22 per cent said their stock levels ‘rose sharply’ last month.

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and Asda Chief Operating Officer, said: “It is encouraging that sales on our high streets are stabilising and, while we are still not seeing growth, conditions have improved since the end of last year.

“However, the general retail outlook remains tough and firms expect volumes of sales and orders to fall next month. The squeeze on people’s pockets continues to bite, despite a recent fall in inflation, with wage growth modest and fuel costs remaining high.”

119 firms took part in the survey, of which 64 were retailers, 46 were wholesalers and nine motor traders.

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