Retail sales volumes fell year-on-year in August at the fastest pace for more than a year

Retailers are also feeling more negative about prospects than at any time since February 2009, the CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey found.

Almost half of retailers, 46%, reported that sales volumes fell in the two weeks to August 16 while 31% said there was a rise.

Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and Asda chief operating officer Judith McKenna said: “As expected, August was a tough month on the high street.

“Sales volumes fell at a pace not seen in over a year, as consumers have continued to see their real incomes squeezed by a combination of inflation and weak wage growth.

“This survey suggests that prices will rise more slowly in the coming months, and savvy retailers will continue to offer consumers the lowest prices possible, but with energy and commodity costs still high, families’ spending power looks like being constrained for some time.”

There was a mixed picture across retail sectors during August. Grocers reported a modest increase after a sales fall in July (-16%) for the first time in nearly three years.

Clothing sales fell but sales of footwear & leather rose for the first time since May.

For the third month running, durable household goods and hardware & DIY performed badly. But furniture & carpets was up for the third month in a row.

Retailers expect sales volumes to fall again in the year to September, but at a slightly slower pace. 27% expect a rise and 35%  a fall.