Stock levels in relation to expected sales have hit a “record low” across retail and the distribution sector as a whole, according to the latest Confederation of British Industry (CBI) quarterly Distributive Trades Survey.
The shortage marks the fifth consecutive month in which a record low has been reached in distribution sector stock levels.
Despite the drops in stock, the survey of 104 companies, of which 42 were retailers, found that within retail, the proportion of deliveries from suppliers accounted for by imports also fell sharply, at one of the fastest rates in the survey’s history.
Despite signs of operational challenges, investment intentions for the next 12 months picked up in the year to August and are now reportedly at their “strongest” since February 1994.
Alpesh Paleja, lead economist, CBI, said: “A ramping-up in retail sales growth in the year to August shows just how much consumer demand continues to spur economic recovery. While sales growth is set to remain strong, a more definitive shift in household spending towards consumer services is anticipated later in the year – leading to greater normalisation of growth in the retail sector.
“Furthermore, there are signs of operational challenges still biting, with stock levels reaching another record low and import penetration falling. Disruption is being exacerbated by continued labour shortages, with many retailers reliant on younger employees currently awaiting their jab.”