Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Economy: Recruitment market by sector: Retailing and distributionOn 3 Aug 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. The retail sector cooled off slightly in May following anexceptionally buoyant April. Retail sales were, however, 5.4% up in volumeterms on May 2001, still a healthy rate of growth. Overall this year, retailsales are 5.8% up on the same period last year. In 2001, retail sales also grewby a robust 6% per annum. In many respects, the buoyancy of the retail sector is something of asurprise given the weakness of the economy in general. Low prices and special pricepromotions continue to boost sales in certain sectors. Clothing and footwearhave benefited from big falls in prices, as have computer and audio-visualequipment. Food prices, especially vegetables are also falling quite sharply. Further evidence of a slowdown is contained in the latest CBI’s monthlyDistributive Trades Survey. This suggested that retail sales grew at theslowest rate for 18 months in the year to June. Sales expectations for themonth ahead have also slipped again. The findings support the May survey, which suggested a slowdown in thegrowth of spending, is starting to take effect. Comparing sales with a yearearlier, 45% of firms said sales were up while 29% said they were down. Thebalance of plus-16% in June compares with plus 25 per cent in May and plus 57%in April. Retailers continue to be optimistic about the month ahead, though this isthe second consecutive survey in which sales expectations have not beenfulfilled. The balance of plus 16 recorded for sales volumes in June is wellbelow the expected plus-35%. Looking ahead to July, retailers revisedexpectations downwards. Some 44% of respondents believed sales will improve,11% said they will decline, giving a balance of plus 33%. With sales continuing to disappoint, retailers have reduced stocks, withorders placed with suppliers rising at the slowest rate since April 1999. Abalance of plus-21% in May compares with only plus-3% in June as retailers ranstocks down to a level that is nearer the long-term average. Stock levels areexpected to be run down further over the coming months. Few retailers recorded acceleration in the rate of sales growth; grocerswere the only major exception. Retailers of confectionery, tobacco, newspapers,durable household goods, books and stationery all reported slowing growth, butwere still experiencing substantial rises in sales volumes. Firms sellingclothing, furniture and carpets reported the sharpest slowdowns in salesgrowth, showing negative or zero growth after robust increases in recentsurveys. Wholesalers’ sales volumes slowed in response to May’s weaker retail sales.But sales were well above the long-term average and, for the first time thisyear, wholesalers reported increased sales for two months running. Wholesalers’ stocks remain relatively low and orders placed with suppliersrose at a far slower rate than in the previous survey. The market has turned for motor traders with reported sales even weaker thanexpected. Asked about volume of sales, 30% said they were up and 23% said theywere down. A slowdown in growth to plus-17% had been expected, but the actualbalance of plus-7% indicates a more abrupt slowdown. In spite of this, businessis still considered above average for the time of year. Year-on-year employment figures for the sector are up by 29,000, with anannual rise in wages of 3.6%. For the present year, profits growth is expectedto be around 10%, with revenue growth for the same period predicted to be 3%.