UK Retail Sales Slows Down in February

British retailers suffered a sharp slowdown this month with business falling at supermarkets and department stores as January sales drew to a close, according to a business survey.

The latest snapshot of retailers from business group, the CBI, showed sales barely rose on a year ago, a much worse performance than City economists and retailers themselves had been expecting. Echoing other signs of pressure on retailers as they resort to discounting to attract consumers, the survey showed prices and headcount falling.

In the survey of 62 retailers, 30% of respondents reported sales volumes were up on a year ago, while 29% said they were down, giving a balance of +1%. That was the lowest reading since November 2013 and below retailers’ expectations of +42% in January’s survey. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales growth would slow only slightly in February, predicting a balance of +34 in February after +39 in January.

The report pointed to more tough trading conditions in the months ahead, with orders from suppliers falling this month, investment intentions being scaled back and retailers planning to cut more staff. The CBI said companies remain optimistic sales volumes will grow in March but that “expectations have moderated significantly from recent highs”.


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Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza