UK Retail Sales Rise Strongly

Published: 4 March 2014

Sales in UK High Street shops have grown strongly since last February, rising at their fastest pace since June 2012, according to a recent CBI survey. The volume of UK sales easily beat expectations, the business lobbying group said.

Just under half of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey respondents reported sales volumes up on a year ago, while only 8% said sales were down. Grocers, clothing, and furniture and carpet retailers had strong sales. Whilst a year-on-year dip in employment has not dented retailer optimism, with sales volumes expected to grow next month.

Plus High Street sales had not been overly affected by extreme UK weather and widespread flooding, said Barry Williams, Asda chief food merchandising officer and CBI Distributive Trades Survey chair. "Overall sales have been remarkably resilient in the face of disruption from the exceptional weather across the UK, which has badly affected many families and businesses," said Mr Williams.

All of which is yet another positive pointer towards economic growth and a gradual recovery within the UK Retail sector.

Directly linked to such positivity is the fact that there are now more job vacancies in the UK than at any time since the heady days before the recession, according to figures released in recent weeks by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). According to the ONS, there are now 580,000 vacancies in the UK, the highest figure since September 2008, when the economy was at its pre-recession height. This is up from 492,000 in the same period (November to January) a year ago.

All of which is extremely positive news and a refreshing change from the doom and gloom of 12-24 months ago. However one word of caution would be that with rising job vacancies and employment figures, employers and recruiters alike only have a finite pool of potential candidates from which to source the required talent. Plus as the economic outlook improves, employers are rightfully working harder and harder to retain their top talent.

Therefore employers and recruiters alike will have to work increasingly harder and be ever more creative and imaginative in their candidate attraction strategies. If that is, we are to feed and satisfy the positivity and post-recession growth demonstrated by the UK Retail sector.

Simon Walton is a Partner and Head of the Retail & Consumer practice at Berwick Partners

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