News: UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says.
LONDON (Reuters) – UK retail sales fell year-to-February as stores rapidly shed their jobs. Only supermarkets reported growth during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, a poll on Thursday found.
The Confederation of British Industry retail sales were -45, only slightly above the eight-month low of -50 in January. The measure indicates declining sales and is below the consensus forecast of -38 in a Reuters poll of economists.
Retailers’ expectations for March – if non-essential stores remain closed to the public as part of a lockdown – fell to -62, the lowest level since the series began in 1983.
In another sign of a change in consumer habits during the lockdown, the online retail sales survey hit a new record high.
“With the lockdown in place, trading conditions remain extremely difficult for retailers,” said Ben Jones, chief economist at the CBI.
“The record growth in online shopping suggests that retailers’ investments in online platforms and click-and-collect services are paying off, but the sector cannot reopen soon enough to protect jobs and bring life to life Sector.”
The loss of jobs at retailers has accelerated, according to a quarterly question in the survey. For the entire distribution sector, which includes wholesalers and car dealers, employment fell at a record rate, according to the CBI survey.
Reporting by Andy Bruce, Editing by David Milliken
Original Source © Reuters