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Shoppers return to high street despite ‘rapid’ price rises

Retail sales volumes were above seasonal norms – up 16% – as shoppers ventured back to high streets in the wake of Omicron, according to a CBI survey.

24 February 2022

Shoppers returned to the high street in February despite prices continuing to rise at a rapid pace, according to a survey.

Retail sales volumes were above seasonal norms – up 16% – as shoppers ventured back to high streets in the wake of the Omicron wave of coronavirus, the latest CBI quarterly Distributive Trades Survey found.

The healthy increase followed a weaker-than-normal January when sales fell by 23%.

Retail selling prices continued to grow rapidly in the year to February, up 75%, with this expected to slightly accelerate to 81% next month.

Internet sales declined in the year to February, down 11% from a 2% drop in January – only the second such fall in the survey’s history.

CBI principal economist Martin Sartorius said: “The easing of Covid-19 restrictions – including the end of work-from-home guidance – has, unsurprisingly, encouraged shoppers to return to the high streets.

“There are other challenges facing retailers, however. Conflict in Ukraine means energy prices and transport costs will rise further, adding more pressure on retailers’ operating costs and biting into households’ spending power.”

– The survey was carried out between January 28 and February 14, with a total of 115 businesses, including 46 retailers, responding.

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