UK retail sales slide by most in over two years: CBI

LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales fell in August at the fastest rate since March 2021 and most stores are expecting another tough month ahead, an industry survey showed on Thursday.

The Confederation of British Industry’s monthly balance of retail sales, which compares volumes with a year ago, fell to -44 in August from -25 in July. Expectations for the month ahead improved to -21 from -32, but were still deeply negative.

“Against a backdrop of rising interest rates and weak demand, retailers foresee cuts to investment over the next year, while employment is expected to fall again next month,” CBI economist Martin Sartorius said, referring to quarterly data published in the survey this month.

The quarterly business situation balance – a gauge of sentiment among retailers – fell to -14 from +6 in May, the lowest reading this year.

The CBI data echoed industry data earlier this week that showed sales growth at British supermarkets slowed in August, reflecting lower inflation as well as a hit to demand from unsettled, unseasonably wet weather.

Market researcher NIQ said supermarket sales on a value basis grew 7.2% in the four weeks to Aug. 12 – the lowest growth since January and down from 8.9% in its July data set.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by David Milliken)