Retailers expect sales to increase

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Retailers expect sales growth to pick up next month after flat sales in March, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey.

The survey of 118 firms, including 69 retailers, found that flat retail sales volumes in the year to March put an end to six months of slowing growth.

Sales volumes were also well below average for the time of year, and weaker than expected.

Orders, too, were broadly flat on a year ago, although this was better than expected, while stock levels jumped in March.

But the outlook is brighter for next month, when retailers expect sales volumes and orders to increase.

Barry Williams, Asda Chief Merchandising Officer for Food, and Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel, said: “This month we’ve seen a glimmer of hope for retailers fade away, with the news that six months of sales growth has come to an end. All eyes are now on April when retailers expect sales to return to form. However, pay freezes and the rising cost of living are hitting households hard and, added to a challenging economic picture, there may well be more tough trading conditions ahead.”