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UK retailers reported the strongest growth in sales since September 2018, according to the Distributive Trades Survey, released by the Confederation of British Industry.

The retail sales balance rose more-than-expected to +20 percent in April from -45 percent in March. The balance was forecast to improve to -5 percent.

This was the highest score since September 2018 and the increase was partly driven by base effects due to the sharp fall in sales volumes seen in April 2020. A net 10 percent expects sales to rise next month.

Order volumes were broadly flat in the year to April and a net 8 percent expected volume to fall in the year to May.

A net 16 percent of retailers reported sales volumes as good for the time of year, compared to -37 percent in March. Sales are expected to remain above seasonal norms next month.

“Despite progress along the roadmap, the impact of Covid-19 restrictions are still biting hard,” Ben Jones, principal economist at the CBI, said.

“And retailers are still facing challenges around inventory management and their supply chains, amid trade disruption, big shifts in consumer behaviour and uncertainty over how long some degree of social distancing could remain in place,” Jones added.


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