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UK retail sales up in March: CBI

RBR Staff Writer Published 27 March 2014

UK retail sales grew again in the year to March, although at a slower pace, according to the monthly survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

According to the CBI's latest Distributive Trades Survey of 106 firms, sales have grown year-on-year for the fourth consecutive month.

However, sales growth weakened in last month to a greater extent than expected. But, growth next month is expected to rebound strongly, the agency said.

Grocers' sales grew solidly, but at the slowest rate in four months and, along with falling sales in non-specialised stores (such as department stores), this contributed to overall slower annual growth in March.

Internet retail sales volumes continued to rise strongly in the year to March, with the pace of growth remaining in line with its long-run average, since August 2009.

CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel chair Barry Williams said it is promising to see a run of positive growth rates on the high street, with sales up on a year ago for the fourth month in a row.

"We're hopeful that this will continue, but there are still signs that this needs to be a cautious hope.

"The pace of growth has slowed, likely in part down to the later timing of Mother's Day and Easter this year - conversely, this is the same reason many retailers are looking forward to more robust growth next month," Williams added.

Many sub-sectors saw strong sales performance: Grocers (+20%), but at the slowest rate in four months; clothing sales also grew substantially (+27%), but a little slower than last month (+33%); and Sales of "other" goods rose strongly (+44%), at the fastest pace since December 2010.