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UK retail sales decline in July, longest slide since 2011, CBI says

British retail sales have fallen for the third consecutive month this year, representing the longest period of decline since 2011, piling pressure on UK retailers.

Retail sales fell for the third consecutive month in the year to July, marking the longest period of decline since 2011, according to a recent trade survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

‘Whilst last year’s summer strength in retail sales is driving some of the comparative weakness this year, it is still hugely concerning that sales have fallen for the longest period in almost eight years,’ CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

‘The UK economy has reached a fork in the road,’ she added. ‘The new Prime Minister must now do everything in his power to achieve a good Brexit deal, thus protecting jobs and our economy.’

Department stores and fashion retailers hit hardest by sales slump

Grocers were the largest positive contributor to headline sales growth this month, reversing fortunes after a large fall last month.

However, this was more than offset by declines in other categories, particularly department stores, clothing and other normal goods (e.g. jewellery, flowers), the CBI said.

Despite contributing most to retail sales growth, British supermarket chain Tesco saw its share price slide by 1.4 in July, while rival Sainsburys has seen its stock climb 2.9% higher over the same period.

Meanwhile, British fashion retailers like ASOS and Superdry, which have seen the most pronounced dip in sales in July, saw their stock fall by more than 9% and 5.5% respectively.

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UK sales growth hampered by Brexit woes

Across the economy more broadly, growth has been volatile in the first half of 2019, driven by companies’ stockpiling uncertainties ahead of previous Brexit deadlines, the CBI said.

‘We expect the economy to grow modestly further ahead, though a no-deal Brexit would likely hit activity and financial markets significantly.’

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