High street sales in August have fallen at the fastest rate since 2008, new research has found.
The CBI’s quarterly Distributive Trades Survey found sales volumes and orders fell at the fastest rate since December 2008 in the year to August.
Retailers expected the sharpest deterioration in business conditions since February 2009 over the next three months.
Investment intentions for the year ahead are negative for the sixth consecutive quarter and employment fell for the 11th quarter in a row in August.
Anna Leach, CBI deputy chief economist, said: “Sentiment is crumbling among retailers, and unexpectedly weak sales have led to a large overhang of stocks. With investment intentions for the year ahead and employment down, retailers expect a chilly few months ahead.
“It is unsurprising that business confidence has deteriorated sharply, with a potential no-deal Brexit on the horizon. But retailers are also buckling under the cumulative burden of costs, including an outdated business rates system and the apprenticeship levy.
“Businesses will be looking for government action at the Budget in the coming months to alleviate some of these pressures.”