CBI says sales growth hit
Retailers' sales volumes fell for the first time in seven months during October, defying expectations, according to the CBI's monthly survey of distributive trades published today. But retailers remain optimistic for growth in November's sales.

While 38 per cent of retailers said their sales were up on a year ago, 42 per cent reported a fall in sales volumes. October's fall in volumes, compared with the previous year, means the underlying trend in sales growth has dropped back slightly to 7 per cent. This decline has also meant the volume of orders placed with suppliers was flat in October.

Sales were mixed across sectors, with declining sales in footwear and leather goods, specialist food and furniture and carpets. By contrast, sales of durable household goods - which includes flatscreen and plasma TVs - and hardware, china and DIY have increased. The new season's ranges helped clothing sales to grow by the strongest since March 2002.

CBI DTS Panel chairman and Asda executive director John Longworth said: 'October's dip in sales ended six months of growth for retailers. This is doubly disappointing as it confounded more positive expectations. It remains to be seen whether this is a return to the tough conditions seen during 2005 and early 2006, or simply a blip in an otherwise upward trend.'