Home and DIY hit badly
Retail sales in June have suffered their sharpest year-on-year fall in 22 years, according to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

The survey found that a net balance of 19 per cent of retailers experienced a drop in sales volumes, compared with a net balance of 7 per cent recording drops in May and 14 per cent in April.

The survey's less volatile three-month trend in sales volumes has not risen so far this year and is also at its lowest point since the survey began in 1983.

CBI DTS panel chairman and Asda executive director John Longworth said: 'A year ago retailers were reaping the benefit of Euro 2004, which was credited with boosting sales of everything from football clothing to TVs and beer. But while this may explain part of the record year-on-year decline now registered, there is no doubt that the underlying picture is also bad. With the slowdown in the housing market and a rise in energy bills, it is not surprising retailers are suffering.'

Grocery and specialist food store sales increased in June, but this was offset by particularly poor sales in furniture, homewares and DIY - all product categories highly dependent on the housing market. Clothing showed some improvement as the warmer weather kicked in, but footwear and leather sales fell sharply after an improvement in May.

The survey got a mixed reception from analysts. Capital Economics UK economist Paul Dales thought the results would strengthen the call for the Bank of England to cut interest rates. He said: 'Today's data suggests that the consumer spending slowdown is accelerating. Accordingly, they support our view that rates will be cut at August's meeting, before falling all the way to 3.5 per cent by the middle of next year.

Seymour Pierce head of equities Richard Ratner criticised the report as flawed however. He said: 'This is a somewhat distorted picture, as even the CBI admits that June last year was a strong month. However, even more pertinent is the fact that the survey covers only just over two weeks of the month, from May 31 to June 15 and thus has missed the huge pick up in clothing sales after June 16.'