UK retail sales experience first upturn in 10 months

Retail sales in the UK increased in March after 10 consecutive months of decline, a new report has revealed.

According to the latest monthly Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Distributive Trades Survey, retail sales volumes were broadly flat in the year to March rising to +2 per cent from -7 per cent in the year to February.

While this upturn should serve as positive news, the report cautions that retailers anticipate a decline in sales to resume in April.

Martin Sartorius, CBI principal economist, said: “The stabilisation of retail sales in March should give some hope that the sector’s downturn is bottoming out. The earlier timing of Easter will likely mean weaker year-on-year sales in April, but easing inflation should support retail spending going forward.

“In order to drive a sustainable recovery in the retail sector, the Government should look to reform business rates. Rethinking the current system to reward investment and better align rates to the economic cycle would help encourage retailers to invest and grow after a difficult year of trading.”

The results, based on a survey of 72 retailers, fall in line with official data from the government which showed stable retail sales in February. Overall confidence in consumer spending power is increasing due to slowing inflation and interest rates likely to come down this year.

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