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East Midlands Chamber News

Retail sales show steepest fall since November 2011

retail sales declineRetail sales fell at their fastest rate in more than a year in May, according to the CBI.

A survey of 69 retailing firms saw the steepest fall in sales since January last year – showing retail activity has weakened persistently during 2013.

Overall sales volumes remained below average for the time of year and orders fell faster than at any point since November 2011.

The detailed findings show that grocery sales were broadly flat on a year ago, reversing last month’s rise.

There were falls in sales across most other sub-sectors, including clothing and footwear.

Retailers are reporting a slightly brighter outlook, expecting sales to rise modestly next month and the business situation to improve over the next quarter.

But firms are planning to scale back their investment for the year ahead – with investment intentions now the weakest since the start of last year.

Barry Williams, Asda Chief Merchandising Office for Food and Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel said: “Retail sales growth has weakened since the start of the year as households continue to feel the pinch, with wages failing to keep pace with the cost of living.

“There is positivity from retailers this month, however, with sales expected to rise in the coming months.”

The survey was conducted between 24 April and 15 May.

George Cowcher, DNCC Chief Executive, said: "It is disappointing, both from the point of view of the economy and for many of our members that retail sales are falling.

"There is a lot of work being done to drive investment across the region but it is essential it is backed up by Government initiatives to encourage people to spend, not just in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire or even the East Midlands but across the country.

"Perhaps the time has come for the Government to ease its austerity measures to give people the confidence and the ability to go out and shop. Failure could result in further job losess and the risk of starting down the slippery spiral of decline, which nobody wants."