Retail sales were broadly flat in the year to February and orders placed upon suppliers fell
The survey of 138 firms including 62 retailers showed that both volume of retail sales and orders failed to meet expectations of growth in February, following six months of very buoyant sales
30% of respondents reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago, while 29% said they were down, giving a balance of +1%, significantly below expectations (+42%) and the lowest since November 2013 (+1%)
The volume of orders placed upon suppliers fell (-7%), disappointing expectations of growth (+12%), but firms do anticipate a rise next month (+18%)
Volumes of sales for the time of year in February fell below seasonal norms (-5%), to the greatest extent since January 2014
Employment fell on a year ago (-21%), with a broadly similar fall in headcount expected next month (-19%)
Retailers still expect a moderate improvement in their business situation over the next three months.
The volume of internet sales rose (+47%) at a pace broadly in line with expectations (+49%)