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DIY, durable goods and furniture sales show March improvement

Published: 27 March 2012
Following a disastrous start to the year, when up to 90% more DIY and hardware retailers reported sales declines than those reporting an increase, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the balance has now stabilised to zero for the first two weeks of March.
DIY, durable goods and furniture sales show March improvement
The latest Distributive Trades Survey by the CBI also showed improvement in durable household goods. Although the balance was still in the negatives, with 18% more retailers reporting a decline in sales, it marked a massive improvement of 72% since February, when 100% of respondents saw sales drops.

It was good news as well for carpet and furniture stores, which showed improvement for the second consecutive month. 58% more retailers saw an increase than those reporting a decline.

Among wholesalers, 58% reported a rise in the volume of sales, while 24% reported a fall. The resulting balance of +34% represents a fourth consecutive month of sales increases, significantly exceeding expectations of +11%.

The survey gave a "steady" view of high street sales, with a third of retailers reporting sales volumes up on a year ago and the same number seeing a decline. The survey's March sales balance rose to zero from -2 in February. However, the CBI reported an overall pessimistic response from retailers, who said they were disappointed for the time of year.

Looking ahead, retailers said they were expecting volume of sales and the volume of orders on suppliers to remain subdued. Relative to demand, stock levels rose sharply last month (+22%) but are expected to be run down slightly next month.

Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel Judith McKenna said: "It is encouraging that sales on our high streets are stabilising and, while we are still not seeing growth, conditions have improved since the end of last year.

"However, the general retail outlook remains tough and firms expect volumes of sales and orders to fall next month. The squeeze on people's pockets continues to bite, despite a recent fall in inflation, with wage growth modest and fuel costs remaining high."


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