High street sales remained sluggish in April, despite the volume of sales rising compared with last year, said the CBI.
According to the CBI's latest trades survey, 45% of retailers saw sales volumes rise in the year to April, while 24% said they declined. The resulting balance of +21 was in line with expectations.
But the CBI said the pace of growth remains subdued - although April saw a slight pick-up. Sales were considered poor for this time of year and next month the industry body expects no growth in sales volumes.
"Despite slightly better year-on-year sales growth in April, this survey shows things are far from rosy on the high street," said CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty. "For the third month in a row, retailers considered sales to be unseasonably poor, stocks are running quite high, and orders with suppliers are expected to fall."
April sales were considered below par for this time of the year. While 12% of retailers reported sales to be good, 35% said they were poor. The resulting balance of -23% was very close to last month's figure which was the lowest since August 2009. Retailers expect sales will remain well below seasonal norms in May, added the CBI.
Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI distributive trades panel and ASDA chief financial officer, said rising commodity prices were putting a squeeze on peoples' pockets resulting in consumers seeking out value wherever possible.
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