News | Published October 29 2019

Retail giants stockpiled at record levels in October, says CBI

Some of Britain’s largest retailers have stockpiled to record levels ahead of the previous October 31 Article 50 deadline, according to the Confederation of British Industry lobby group.

The CBI said that retailers’ stock quantities against the volume of expected sales reached record levels in October, since they first began tracking these statistics in 1983.

The lobby group said that the increase was a result of increased stockpiling in the retail sector ahead of the fourth quarter, which comes with the busy Christmas shopping period.

The former possibility of a no-deal Brexit on Halloween had raised concerns of delays in the delivery of goods from Europe ahead of the busy period, with firms taking contingency measures by stocking seasonal products earlier than usual.

These concerns have now dissipated after the EU granted an extension of the Article 50 deadline to January 31 2020.

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s leading economist, had said that the timing of the previous October 31 deadline “could not be worse”.

Newton-Smith said: “the run-up to Christmas is a crucial time of year for the retail sector and not knowing where we will be on November 1 is adding more strain to an already beleaguered sector.”

A CBI survey of 82 businesses showed that sales volumes in the year to October were down ten per cent on the same period a year before, going against retailers’ projections of flat sales for the period.

October was also the sixth consecutive month of declining sales according to CBI records, the longest period of falling numbers since the financial crisis.

CBI figures also showed that the rate of online sales grew in the year to October, with 49 per cent more goods sold online than the same period last year, reflecting the shift in consumer habits toward online purchasing.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
October 29 2019

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