Retailers expect employment to improve slightly this month, remaining below the level of a year ago in March, but by less than February.
Retailers that said employment in their stores was down in February reached 33 per cent, offset by 15 per cent of retailers saying employment had increased, resulting in a net decline of 18 per cent.
When asked about volume sales, 14 per cent of retailers said sales were good, against 36 per cent saying volumes were poor. The balance for volume sales was 23 per cent - the lowest since January 1999.
CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty said: 'Weak consumer demand for goods means so far this year, retailers have suffered minimal sales growth and falling prices. The retail environment has been particularly tough for sellers of big ticket items.'