Second month of High Street growth

CBI figures show a second consecutive month of growth on the High Street, with more forecast through Easter.
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According to the business group's latest Distributive Trades Survey, 39 per cent of retailers said that sales volumes in early March were higher when compared against the same period in 2009, and 26 per cent said they were lower.

The resulting growth of 13 per cent was broadly in line with expectations (16 per cent), but marks a slowing on February's strong sales growth of 23 per cent.

Looking ahead to April, 14 per cent of retailers said they expect sales will be higher than they were a year ago.

The three month moving average of sales volumes stayed positive for the fifth consecutive month (a balance of nine per cent) and similar growth is expected in April.

The volume of orders placed on suppliers grew for the second consecutive month, reflecting the rise in sales volumes, with a seven per cent reporting an increase in orders, which are expected to grow at a similar rate next month.

Somoe six per cent of retailers said that stock levels were more than adequate to meet predicted demand. Stock adequacy has stayed below its long-run average since May 2009, and next month stocks are expected to be broadly adequate relative to expected demand.

Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and chief operating officer of Asda, said:

"Despite not matching the strength seen in February, it's encouraging that high street sales have continued to grow this month. The outlook for Easter may still be positive but, with a weak economy and pay freezes for many, consumers are likely to remain cautious for some time.

“While grocers continue to outperform relative to other parts of the high street and sales of some big-ticket household goods are still growing strongly, hardware and DIY sales continue to struggle. Conditions will stay tough on the high street for some time, and shoppers will be holding their breath for the Budget."

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