Food sales the only bright spotamid retailers' autumn gloom

As consumer confidence slides, 48 per cent of retailers report lower sales

The retail sector faces a bleak Christmas after retailers posted another set of dismal trading figures in the first half of September and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said it did not expect the economy to recover until autumn 2009.

Some 48 per cent of retailers reported falling sales, with just 21 per cent posting an increase for the period between 18 August and 17 September, according to the CBI's Distributive Trades Survey.

Andy Clarke, retail director at grocer Asda, said that recent credit crunch-related news, such as Lloyds TSB's rescue takeover of HBOS, underlined the volatility of the environment for consumer spending: "One of the things we are conscious of is that it feels like hurricane season. We are not sure what will turn up to affect performance. Life has changed."

However, the net balance of negative 27 per cent of retailers posting falling sales was better than the forecast of negative 42 per cent and represented an improvement on August's record low of negative 46 per cent.

The grocers helped to buoy up the overall retail sector, with 37 per cent inpositive territory, while all non-grocery retail sectors posted a decrease in sales over the period. Industry experts said retailers face a tough build-up to Christmas.

Martin Carr, senior manager of retail at accountancy firm Ernst and Young, said: "I expect to see many retailers on sales long before Christmas – by mid-December." Among the factors squeezing household expenditure, he cited falling house values.

"Over the last four to five years, retail sales have closely mapped against house prices. As house prices continue to fall, this is sending more people to the discounters, such as Primark, Aldi and Lidl," he said.

John Cridland, the CBI deputy director-general, said: "Sadly, there has been no Indian summer after the sales washout of August, and the retail outlook for early autumn remains bleak. Consumers are feeling the brunt of the economic slowdown as the UK endures what is likely to be a short and mild recession."

The CBI forecasts that a negative balance of 30 per cent of retailers will post declining sales in October. Mr Cridland said the economy had "weakened" since the Office of National Statistics said in August that economic expansion had shuddered to a halt in the second quarter. "We are predicting that the third and fourth quarter could be mildly negative." But he added: "One year from now, we ought to be seeing those shoots of recovery."

Mr Cridland said the CBI expected inflationary pressures to ease over the next few months, which should give the Bank of England some leeway to cut interest rates by 0.5 per cent in November. However, Mr Carr at Ernst and Young said many UK retailers had yet to feel the full impact of accelerating inflation, driven by Chinese wage increases and dollar strength

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star