CBI: ‘UK retail sales rise during December but January forecast is weak’

While the overall rate of retail sales has gone up in Britain during the countdown to Christmas, performance was weaker than initial predictions had stated, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Furthermore, the forecast for January is that retail sales will be much weaker than hoped for.

In the CBI’s retail sales survey, which was based on the responses of retailers, motor traders and wholesalers, sales activity was said to be up +19 in December, much higher than the +7 figure recorded in November, which was the lowest figure recorded for nine months.

While this represents a positive increase, it is well below the median forecast of +21 from a poll of economists that was conducted by international news firm Reuters.

Barry Williams, the CBI’s distributive trades chairman, said: “It’s no surprise sales have recovered as we head into the final shopping days of the Christmas season.

“It would be ideal if the industry could keep that momentum into the New Year but retailers know 2015 was tough, and they’re expecting 2016 to start in much the same vein.”

During the course of the last two years, consumers have fuelled the UK’s economic recovery, despite the fact that wage growth has continued to be weak.

Other information released by the CBI as part of the survey was that food sales continued to perform well during December, and clothing sales were also high, though sales of leather and footwear items dropped.