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CBI survey reveals difficult retail market ahead

A survey by the CBI has highlighted the troubles of the UK retail sector after a brief period of respite and hope that the worst was over. The survey found that 63% of retailers have seen their sales fall in the first half of March with just 19% reporting an increase. The net balance of retailers expecting to see negative sales growth in the month of March is 44% against forecasts of around 33% only a few days ago.

After hopes that the sector was maybe about to turn a corner we appear to have arrived at a situation which is worse than the scene just before Christmas. The problem now is that UK consumers are themselves acutely aware of the fragile nature of the UK economy, their own job prospects and the price of goods, with many now holding back with the expectation that prices will fall further. Even though UK inflation rose slightly last month this was in the main due to an increase in food costs.

Those who discount the CBI survey do so at their own risk as the CBI has historically had a very close feel for the state of the UK markets in general. There is no doubt that money is now tighter than ever before, retailers are struggling and we are set to see a significant increase in the number of businesses moving into administration in the short to medium term. So far the online sector has performed admirably but there are concerns that growth in this area will fall significantly the longer the UK economy struggles.

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