GB: CBI Distributive Trades

Wed Dec 20 05:00:00 CST 2017

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December's CBI Distributive Trades Survey points to a moderate early Xmas shopping period for the retail sector. The balance of respondents reporting an increase in volume sales versus a year ago dropped 6 percentage points to a still very respectable 20 percent. However, while this matched market expectations, it will have been biased up by a hefty 2.1 percent monthly slump in actual sales in December 2016.

There were also signs of a further slowdown to come. Hence, orders placed with suppliers were down 11 percentage points at 11 percent and expected orders declined 9 percentage points to 13 percent. The CBI also forecast its sales index to extend its slide to 17 percent in January.

That said, December's results put overall volume growth at close to its long-run average so the broader picture remains quite positive.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) produces a monthly survey (and a more detailed quarterly report) analysing the performance of the UK retail, wholesale and motor trade sector. Volume sales, orders on suppliers, sales for the time of year and stocks are all covered and the quarterly survey also covers imports, selling prices, numbers employed, investment and business situation. Financial markets tend to concentrate on the CBI's annual sales growth measure as a leading indicator of the official retail sales report.

This survey is a leading indicator of consumer spending because retailer and wholesaler sales are directly influenced by consumer buying levels. The monthly update provides a vital update on volume of sales, orders and stocks. Like the industrial survey, it carries significant weight in the formulation of economic policy at the Bank of England and within government as a highly respected barometer of high street trade. It is considered to be an advance indicator of retail sales although it is not well correlated with the official data on a monthly basis.

Monthly and quarterly