UK retail sales volumes in the year to September 2023 have fallen for a fifth consecutive month, according to the latest monthly Distributive Trades survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
A total of 172 companies were included in the survey, 80 of which were retailers.
However, the survey revealed that retail sales volumes fell at a much slower pace of -14% in the year to September, compared to -44% in the year to August.
Retailers expect the decline to further moderate to -8% in October.
During the month, sales volumes were marginally above average for the time of year at +5%, against -9% in the previous month. Sales are expected to align with seasonal norms at 2% in October.
The CBI survey also reveals that internet sales volumes were -3% in the year to September 2023, broadly the same as the previous month. However, retailers expect a steep decline at -36% next month.
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Sales volume for wholesale fell at the same pace as last month, -23%, but is expected to stabilise next month.
CBI principal economist Martin Sartorius said: “The retail sector endured a fifth consecutive annual sales decline in September, but there are some signs that this contractionary momentum may be running out of steam. Real wage growth and improving consumer confidence should provide retailers with some much-needed support going into the crucial autumn and winter trading period.
“Nonetheless, retailers’ growth prospects will continue to be constrained by persistent cost pressures and lacklustre UK economic momentum.
“There is an opportunity in the forthcoming Autumn Statement to create a business environment for growth – whether it’s through an investment-focused tax regime or helping firms find and/or reskill the staff they need with a reformed Apprenticeship Levy.”