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UK retail sales rise in October but stock levels worrying - CBI

(Alliance News) - UK retail sales increased in October, though stock levels hit a record low, ...

Alliance News 26 October, 2021 | 3:28PM
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(Alliance News) - UK retail sales increased in October, though stock levels hit a record low, according to the latest CBI distributive trades survey released on Tuesday.

The survey, which features 123 companies, including 51 retailers, found sales picked up annually in October. This was due to easier comparatives, however, as Covid-19 restrictions tightened in 2020. The UK implemented a tiered-system of curbs in Autumn of last year, which meant some areas had more mobility freedoms than others.

Rising 30% yearly in October, growth accelerated from September's 11% hike, the CBI noted. For November, a further uptick to 35% growth is expected.

"The pace of internet sales growth for the year to October slowed further below the long-run average rate. This may also reflect base effects, as rising Covid-19 cases in October 2020 prompted consumers to shop on-line in greater numbers," the CBI added.

"Meanwhile, wholesalers reported sales as above seasonal norms in October, and to broadly the same extent as last month. Wholesalers expect sales to remain good for the time of year next month, albeit to a lesser extent. Motor traders also reported sales as good for the time of year, and more so than last month, with further improvement expected in November."

However, stock levels hit a new low in October.

The CBI added: "Stock levels in relation to expected demand reached a record low for the seventh consecutive month in October across the distribution sector as a whole, with all three sub-sectors also seeing survey record lows. Stock adequacy is expected to improve only slightly in the year to November."

The UK is grappling with supply chain issues, particularly a lack of drivers for heavy goods vehicles.

CBI Principal Economist Ben Jones commented: "The UK's economic recovery has been pretty bumpy lately and the same seems true of the retail sector. Sales performance has jumped around in recent months, while stock shortages continue to bite. Disruption to supply chains, combined with staff shortages and uncertain public health conditions mean retailers are finding it difficult to plan for the winter ahead."

By Eric Cunha; ericcunha@alliancenews.com

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