Wholesale showing strong growth, according to latest CBI numbers

Latest figures from the CBI’s Distributive Trades Survey show wholesale sales volumes are up so far this year.

The survey shows that 64% of wholesalers reported a sales volume rise in the year to January, compared to just 8% reporting a volume dip.

Retail sales also grew strongly in the year, slightly exceeding expectations. The survey of 127 firms showed that whilst sales volumes grew at a slower pace than in the previous month – which benefitted from bumper Black Friday sales – the rate of growth remained healthy, and volumes were well above average for the time of year.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of economics, said: “After the sales bonanza of Black Friday cooled down, retailers saw solid footfall through the doors over the Christmas trading period, leading to further robust growth in sales in the New Year. However, under the spotlight of strong competition, some retailers are feeling the heat on their margins.

“Falling oil prices and low inflation mean consumers have a bit more money in their pockets. We expect to see this translate into strong sales growth in the months ahead.”

Key findings:

  • 50% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in January on a year ago, whilst 10% said they were down, giving a rounded balance of +39%. This was above expectations (+35%)
  • 46% of retailers expect sales volumes to grow over the next month, with 4% expecting them to decrease, giving a balance of +42%
  • 25% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 23% placed fewer, giving a balance of +2%. Whilst below expectations (+15%), orders are expected to grow further next month (balance of +12%)
  • The volume of internet sales rose (+49%) in the year to January, broadly in line with the long-run average (+52%)
  • Sales volumes grew particularly strongly in clothing (+91%), furniture amp; carpets (+77%), other normal goods (+52%), and grocers (+50%)

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