View more on these topics

CBI figures show retail sales fall

For the first time in ten years, pre-Christmas retail sales were no higher than a year earlier, reveals the latest survey from the Confederation of British Industry.

The results raise fears that the consumer spending that is sustaining the UK economy is faltering. If there are knock-on effects for employment, the housing market could suffer as overstretched borrowers face high repayments. An interest rate rise could make the situation worse.

December&#39s CBI survey was also the first for nearly three years in which more retailers said sales were down than said they were up.

The CBI urges caution in interpreting the results since the monthly survey stops at 18 December , so does not allow for the possibility of a late surge in sales in the run up to Christmas.

But, in the two weeks covered, the survey shows year-on-year sales were down for 37% of firms, and up for just 34%.

The minus 3% balance compares with plus 21% in November and 25% in October. It is the first negative balance since January 1999 and the first negative balance for December since 1992 &#45 raising fears that.

The three month moving average, which smooths out month-to-month fluctuations, shows sales growing but at a slower rate than in last month&#39s survey. The balance of plus 14% compares to plus 22% in November.

Ian McCafferty, CBI chief economic adviser, says: “Retailers will be very concerned by these figures. We will need to wait for the full picture but, without a last-minute surge in spending, this will have been a very disappointing Christmas. We must hope that consumers are simply deferring purchases until the January sales.

“If the mood of consumers is still low into the New Year, then the outlook for the UK economy is seriously worrying.”


Prescott to curb Right to Buy next week

Council tenants will see their dreams of owning their homes dashed next week when John Prescott curbs the Right to Buy scheme. Sources in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister say Mr Prescott will next week announce plans to halve discounts in property hotspots, claiming the action is necessary to stop developers. The moves, […]

NAMBA consults members on appointed rep proposals

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers and Advisers is consulting members on FSA proposals for appointed representatives. Charles Gooding, chairman of NAMBA, says: “The FSA has published CP159, its consultation on appointed representatives, extending the current regime. It is essential that all mortgage intermediaries read this paper because it creates a new regime for mortgage […]

Mortgage Next forms alliance with AXA

Independent mortgage distribution network Mortgage Next has formed a strategic alliance with AXA Adviser Network as part of AXA&#39s Mortgage Solutions. This integrated support package provides advisers with a market wide choice of lenders through a customised Trigold mortgage aggregator package backed up by a general insurance and compliance support package. Mortgage Next will provide […]

CEBR sees bad year ahead for housing market

The Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts a bad year for the UK housing market in 2003 as the consumer boom fades away. The gloomy forecast is among 10 predictions the CEBR makes for the economy next year &#45 although it admits that some punts are longer shots than others. It is not all […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up