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Economy in Brief

UK Retail Sector Continues to Ramp Down
by Robert Brusca January 29, 2008

Weakness remains in play in the UK retail sector. In January the ‘+4’ orders and sales results continue a trend of progressively weaker net balance results that extends back to early 2007. Still those readings bested the ‘-5’ for sales and the ‘-9’ for orders that retailers themselves had expected. So while conditions have steadily worsened, they have still exceeded the expectations of the participating retailers themselves, at least in December. Expectations for sales ‘for the time of year’ were a weak ‘-16’ for January, however, and that reading resided in the bottom 22 percentile of its range. Looking ahead to February ‘time of year sales’ is still negative at ‘-5’, but retailers appear to have scaled back on their pessimism. Sales and orders compared to a year ago are expected to be in the ‘+10” range. If so that would pose a bit of a reversal to the ongoing down trend. But January was the first positive sales surprise in the past five months and only the second in the past nine. Retailers have had a reason for their pessimism.

UK Retail volume data CBI Survey
Reported: Feb
08
Jan
08
Dec
07
Nov
07
12Mos Avg %tile Max Min Range
Sales/Year Ago -- 4 8 13 19 42% 57 -35 92
Orders/Year Ago -- 4 6 18 15 53% 42 -38 80
Sales: Time/Year -- 0 -5 -3 4 47% 41 -37 78
Stocks: Sales -- 9 24 18 13 30% 30 0 30
Expected:           Feb-08      
Sales/Year Ago 10 -5 11 15 16 46% 49 -23 72
Orders/Year Ago 10 -9 10 12 11 61% 38 -34 72
Sales: Time/Year -5 -16 3 2 3 41% 29 -29 58
Stocks: Sales 11 24 11 12 10 38% 24 3 21
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