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Economy in Brief

UK Retail Sales Plummet
by Robert Brusca December 17, 2008

Our series on UK retail sales goes back to 1986. On that basis the current retail sales metrics are largely at their lowest for the entire series across measures except for inventories. Inventory-to-sales ratios are high, in the top 25% of their range for the period. At -55 in December the retail survey plunged from an already weak reading of -46 in November. Orders have plunged to a reading of-58 from -46 in November. Sales for the ‘time of year’ at -50 are much worse in December than they were in November at -42.

Expected sales are weak as well. This is not just a flash-in-the-pan bad December. Expected sales are at a reading of -49 for January compared to a -40 for December. Expected orders are a weak -48 in January compared to -41 in December, and so on.

The net readings that ultimate have been posted for December are a sharp deterioration from December’s expectations. Since December turned out to be much worse than expectations for it, what of January? January already has poor expectation set. After September and October sales were better than what had been expected November and December have been substantially worse. If this string continues it will be a dismal January, indeed.

UK Retail volume data CBI Survey
Reported: Jan-09 Dec-08 Nov-08 Oct-08 12MO Avg Pcntle Max Min Range
Sales/Yr Ago   -55 -46 -27 -24 0% 66 -55 121
Orders/Yr Ago   -58 -46 -36 -29 0% 48 -58 106
Sales: Time/Yr   -50 -42 -35 -31 0% 41 -50 91
Stocks:Sales   23 19 17 18 77% 30 0 30
Expected:           Jan-09      
Sales/Yr Ago -49 -40 -25 -30 -19 0% 67 -49 116
Orders/Yr Ago -48 -41 -30 -39 -22 0% 47 -48 95
Sales: Time/Yr -51 -38 -31 -44 -27 0% 45 -51 96
Stocks:Sales 20 17 12 18 15 74% 26 3 23
Since Sept 1986
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