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March sales stabilise yet clothing sales still suffer

Sales across clothing stores still suffered in March yet wider retail sales stabilised despite retailers expressing their disappointment.

According to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey 33% of retailers saw sales volumes rise compared to a year ago for the first two weeks of March. However 33% of retailers reported a fall generating a zero balance and suggesting that sales on the high street may be stabilising.

Clothing retailers however reported a balance of -12%, although this is an improvement on last month’s balance of -41%.

Retailers reported sales were low for this time of year (-27%) and said that they expect the volume of sales to remain low over the next month (-4%).

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and Asda chief operating officer, 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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