Retail sales surge in defiance of market expectations – EY ITEM Club

27 March 2014

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  • Retail sales surged in February…
  • …defying expectations…
  • ….and the outlook remains positive

Martin Beck senior economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, comments on today’s retail sales figures:

“Retail sales surged ahead in February, in defiance of market expectations for a lacklustre performance. On a three month-on three month basis, sales volumes grew at their fastest rate since early 2008. The weather may well have influenced the numbers - online and mail order sales rose by almost 8% on January’s level, perhaps driven by those unwilling to brave the elements.

“February’s strong reading is consistent with other positive evidence from the retail sector. The reported sales balance in March’s CBI’s Distributive Trades Survey fell back from a high level, but this still showed sales growth in positive territory. And the survey’s look at future performance suggests the expected sales balance will increase.

“Meanwhile, inflation fell in February to its lowest level in four years and looks set to continue in that direction, ensuring shoppers’ purchasing power receives less of a drag from rising prices.

“With growing employment and rising house prices boosting the ‘feel-good’ factor among consumers, the foundations for a continued recovery in retail spending continue to look solid.”