Retailers had “mixed fortunes” in the last month as furniture retailers saw a boost in sales while grocers suffered, according to CBI data.
The CBI’s latest poll of 122 businesses showed that overall orders fell in the year to April. The decline was sparked by a fall in grocers’ sales volumes.
However, clothing, furniture and carpet retailers, and chemists all reported “solid” sales growth.
Around a third of respondents said volumes were up on a year ago, and 18% said they were down.
Barry Williams, the CBI’s Distributive Trades Survey chairman and Asda’s chief customer officer, said the boost for furniture retailers could be attributed to the “desire by customers to spruce up their homes”.
Overall retail sales are expected to pick up again next month. Williams added: “With shopping habits changing so dramatically in the last few years underlying consumer confidence is hard to read, but both retailers and wholesalers are optimistic there will be a spring in their customers’ steps, and therefore their sales, in the near future.”
The rise in internet sales exceeded expectations in the year to April, and “strong growth” is set to continue in May, the CBI added.