SHOPPERS HAVE continued to ease the pace of their spending after the CBI’s latest retail survey showed that sales growth slowed slightly this month.
The lobby group’s distributive trades report pointed to a solid performance in the year to September, albeit at a weaker rate than the month before.
A greater percentage of retailers said sales volumes rose in September than fell, giving a balance of plus 31.
Department stores, footwear and leather shops and furniture and carpet outlets performed strongly. But growth among supermarkets slowed significantly as grocers battle each other for market share through an extended price war.
Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s director of economics said: “Solid growth continues on the high street, with most sectors doing decent business and department stores performing particularly well.
“However, the pace of growth in the grocery sector tailed off significantly compared with the previous survey. Retailers are expecting sales to grow again next month, but at a steadier pace.”
The UK’s economy has been growing this year driven by consumer spending and rising house prices.
But economists are concerned about the long-term nature of this recovery as average wage rises lag inflation and housing transactions begin to slow.
Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “It is questionable how strong consumer spending can be on a sustained basis until current very low earnings growth picks up appreciably.
“The prospect of interest rates starting to edge up before long may also be a concern to a significant number of consumers given that debt levels are still high.”