Retail sales fell in early May after a brief boost in April, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
However the CBI added that the sales decline in May was in line with retailers’ expectations and apart from April, was the least negative month in almost a year, according to its Distributive Trade Survey.
Footwear and leather goods retailers were among categories reporting positive sales growth in May.
Overall, the survey showed that 48% of retailers said sales volumes were down in the first half of May, while 31%said they were up.
The resulting balance of -17% was the least negative figure since last June’s -9% figure, apart from last month’s +3%.
CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty, said: “Businesses of all types are looking to reduce stock levels during the recession to adjust to lower demand and improved cashflow. Retailers’ efforts appear to be having an impact, with stock levels lower relative to expected demand, which should help improve conditions along the supply chain.”
He added that retailers were also less negative about broader business prospects: “Retailers are less pessimistic about their general business situation, and the decline in demand now appears to be slowing compared with the turn of the year. However, with unemployment still rising, conditions will remain tough.”