Sterling softens, UK retail sector in focus

Sterling softened versus the euro and the dollar on Wednesday as investors looked the resulting balance of -9% disappointed expectations of modest growth in sales volumes, but was an improvement on last month’s balance of -14% and April’s very weak figure (-26). A slightly slower decline is predicted next month (-7%). The 9% survey balance equates to annual volume growth of just over 2% on the ONS measure. The three-month moving average of sales volumes, which levels out monthly volatility, continued its downward trend to a balance of -16% this month, which is the weakest since December 2005 (-18%). Sales for the time of year were also seen as poor by a net 21% of firms – a trend which is expected to continue easing next month, when a balance of 17% expect poor sales. Weak demand prompted retailers to cut the volume of orders placed with suppliers in June (a balance of -12%), and they expect to do so again in July at a similar rate. Stock levels were seen as more than adequate to meet demand by a net 22% of businesses.

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