Retail sales grew strongly in the year to February 2014, beating expectations, and at the fastest pace since June 2012, according to the CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey.
The survey, of 120 firms, showed that sales have grown for the ninth consecutive month, while retailers’ investment intentions for the year ahead were at their highest since November 2010. Sales volumes were strongest among grocers, clothing and furniture and carpet retailers, but specialist food and drink recorded a fall in sales volumes for the second consecutive month. Grocers’ sales grew at their strongest pace (+67%) since June 2012.
Across the board, sales were broadly in line for the time of year, while orders picked up, consistent with expectations, and firms anticipate they will strengthen again in the next month.
Almost half (42%) of wholesalers reported that their sales volumes were up on last year, and just 19% said they were down, giving a balance of +23%. Industrial materials (+100%) and building materials (+79%) had the strongest showings. Investment intentions for the year ahead (+49%) were at a record high.
Internet sales volumes among retailers maintained their “robust” growth in the year to February, although they are expected to slow somewhat next month.
Overall, confidence across the retail trade was high, said the CBI, with most retailers expecting their business to improve over the next three months.