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Retailers feel the pinch as shoppers stay away

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The volume of sales on the high street in July was lower than expected compared to a year earlier. Shoppers are reigning in spending in the face of rising food and petrol prices, research by the CBI shows. 

While one third of retailers saw sales volume rise on a year ago, nearly 40 per cent reported a fall. The resulting balance of -5 per cent is the weakest since June 2010, disappointing retailers’ expectations.

Expectations for the future are no better – retailers expect sales volumes to fall at an even quicker rate next month (-12 per cent).

Food retailers recorded their first decline in sales, of -16 per cent, in two-and-a-half-years. Sales of footwear and leather (-84 per cent), durable household goods (-76 per cent) and hardware and DIY (-62 per cent) also fell sharply.

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and ASDA COO, says that rising prices – especially for fuel – continue to impact consumer confidence and make life tough on the high street.

“There’s been a fall in real disposable incomes since the beginning of the year with shoppers either cutting back or trading down to make their declining spending power go further,” she says. “With consumer confidence fragile, UK retailers continue to face challenging times.”

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