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August 25, 2021

CBI survey finds UK retail sales surged in year to August

Retail sales are expected to increase at a slower pace in the year to September.

Retail sales in the UK saw a sharp increase in the 12 months to August, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey.

This was the largest increase in retail sales in the country since December 2014.

A total of 104 companies were included in the survey, 42 of which were retailers.

The survey found that retail sales surged by 60% this month from 23% last month.

This upward trend is expected to continue at a slower pace in the year to September, with a 39% increase forecast.

During the month, retail orders grew at a survey record pace of 68% from 49% in July.

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Wholesalers’ sales volume grew more slowly in the year to August at 28%, compared to 59% last month. This is expected to gain momentum with a 37% increase next month.

CBI lead economist Alpesh Paleja said: “A ramping-up in retail sales growth in the year to August shows just how much consumer demand continues to spur economic recovery.

“While sales growth is set to remain strong, a more definitive shift in household spending towards consumer services is anticipated later in the year, leading to greater normalisation of growth in the retail sector.

“Furthermore, there are signs of operational challenges still biting, with stock levels reaching another record low and import penetration falling.

“Disruption is being exacerbated by continued labour shortages, with many retailers reliant on younger employees currently awaiting their [Covid-19 vaccination].”

Recent data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the volume of retail sales in the country fell by 2.5% between June and July.

Sales volumes were 5.8% higher last month compared with last February, before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the retail industry.

During July 2021, sales volumes of food stores fell by 1.5%, while non-food stores saw a 4.4% drop in sales.