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Clothing sales stabilise in May, say CBI

High street activity dropped for a second consecutive month in May, however clothing sales stabilised following a poor April.

The CBI said that 28% of retailers surveyed said that sales had risen on a year ago against 42% who said sales were down, giving a balance of -14%. This was in line with retailers' expectations, but less severe than the net -26% reported last month.

Clothing sales remained steady at up 3%, but footwear and leather retailers had another successful month, with sales up 51%. However, the study revealed, although retailer confidence has worsened slightly this month, high street sales are expected to improve in June.

Ian McCafferty, CBI chief economic adviser, said: "The high street has faced another testing month as consumer spending power has been hit by the rising cost of fuel and food, as well as any credit crunch worries. It is encouraging that retailers can see some recovery in sales next month, but they are not optimistic about the business outlook, and retail conditions are likely to remain tough."

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