UK retail sales volumes have fallen for the eighth consecutive month in the year to December 2023, according to the latest monthly distributive trades survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The drop was at a faster rate of 32% from 11% in November.
The forecast for January 2024 suggests an even steeper decline, with expectations set at 41%.
In the year to December 2023, internet sales volumes declined 41% from 39% in November. The rate is expected to remain unchanged in the month following.
Wholesale volumes also dropped at a faster pace of 24% in the year to December, from 11% in November.
This decline is expected to ease in January at 18%.
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CBI principal economist Martin Sartorius stated: “The retail sector ended 2023 on a glum note, with the ongoing downturn in sales volumes deepening during the crucial holiday trading period. Looking ahead, retailers are bracing themselves for a New Year’s chill, as sales are set to fall at an even quicker pace next month.
“Strained household finances and higher interest rates continue to take a toll on consumer spending, suggesting that retailers will have to navigate a tough demand environment in the months to come.
“In this context, a hike in business rates for many retailers, alongside a rise in the National Living Wage, will heap more pressure on the sector in the new year.”