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GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index decreased two points in April 2018 – the 28th consecutive month without a positive Overall Index Score.

Four of the five measures fell and only GFK’s major purchase Index increased.

The index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months dropped four points this month to -1 – two points lower than this time last year. The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months decreased six points to +4 this month – two points higher than April 2017.

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months fell three points to -29 – six points lower than April 2017. Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months dropped two points to -24 – three points lower than this time last year.

The Major Purchase Index increased one point this month to +3 – four points lower than April 2017. The Savings Index dipped three points to +10 in April – nine points higher than this time last year.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “We now have 28 consecutive months without a positive Overall Index Score. The last positive was in January 2016. Hope springs eternal for better numbers but the continued uncertain economic forecast means that the sun is not yet shining brightly for UK consumers.”

The index continued to “bump along stubbornly” in negative territory with a two-point slide to -9 this April. “As consumers, we need to see clear evidence with our own eyes – in our bank balances and pay packets – that balmier economic climes have returned,” said Staton.

“Yet our view of the UK’s general economic situation remains low. More worryingly, there is a steep decline this month in the numbers concerning our personal financial situation – for both the past 12 months and the year ahead.

“This is the measure relating to security in our day-to-day finances and propensity to shop, spend and plan for their future. There’s little evidence of optimism in that respect. Consumer confidence is stuck in the doldrums,” he said.

Morning update

In this week’s edition of The Grocer, fast-growing nut butter brand Pip & Nut gets £1m cash injection, Yo Sushi-branded supermarket products moves closer after Taiko deal, London-based wholesaler Nila collapses and the City’s reaction to the spin-off of Costa Coffe.

See for full details later this morning.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 crept up 0.1% to 7,429.2pts

Early risers include Cranswick (CWK), up 1.6% at 2,988p, Dairy Crest Group (DCG), up 1.8% at 558p, Nichols (NICL), up 1.5% at 1,550p, PureCircle (PURE), up 1.8% at 396p and SSP Group (SSPG), up 1.1% at 647.3p.

Fallers so far today include McColl’s Retail Group (MCLS), off 0.8% at 240p, Premier Foods (PFD), also off 0.8% at 38.4p, B&M European Value Retail (BME), down 0.3% at 402.5p and Majestic WINE (WINE), down 0.6% at 437.5p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.6% at 7,421.4p.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported the volume of retail sales was flat in the year to April, once again disappointing expectations of a return to growth on the high street.

The survey of 100 firms showed that retail sales volumes were broadly unchanged in the year to April.

Sales were below average for the time of year for the second month in a row, albeit at to a lesser extent than in the year to March.

Sales growth among grocers, hardware & DIY, and recreational goods stores offset falls in sales volumes in the clothing, footwear & leather, non-store, and furniture & carpets sub-sectors.

Year-on-year retail internet sales growth picked up in April after rising at the slowest pace since 2009 in the year to March. Retailers expect a further acceleration in internet sales growth in the year to May.

Some 31% of retailers say sales volumes rose in April on a year ago, while 33% said they were down, giving a balance of -2%. This undershot healthier expectations (+16%)

Thirty-three per cent of respondents expect sales volumes to increase in May on a year ago with 8% expecting a decrease, giving a solid balance of +25%.

Some 30% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, while 35% placed fewer orders, giving a balance of -5%.

The CBI found 23% of retailers reported their volume of sales for the time of year were good, whilst 32% said they were poor, giving a balance of -9%.

Internet sales volumes growth accelerated in the year to April (+36%), marking a significant improvement from last month (+11%). Internet sales growth is expected to pick up further in the year to May (+50%).

Sales volumes expanded in grocers (+29%), hardware & DIY (+33%) and recreational goods (+64%). Meanwhile, sales volumes decreased in clothing (-43%), footwear & leather (-83%), furniture & carpets (-20%), and in the “non-store” sector (-19%).

wholesalers saw a pick-up in sales volumes growth in the year to April: Some 48% of wholesalers reported sales volumes to be up on last year and 20% said they were down, giving a balance of +28%.

Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence, said: “Sales have continued to disappoint in April, after falling in March. But expectations for next month are looking a little healthier.”

It was no secret that UK high streets had endured tough trading conditions in recent months, with some big names closing or cutting back.

“Much of this reflects ongoing structural changes in the sector as well as the continued squeeze on households’ real incomes.

“While conditions have improved for households recently – with real wage growth inching into positive territory – we expect further gains in living standards to remain modest. So the pressure looks set to stay on retailers for the time being,” Leach said.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) reported flat first-quarter revenue of €2.4bn (££1.7bn), or up 1% on a comparable and fx-neutral basis. Volumes fell 2.5% on a comparable basis.

First-quarter reported operating profit totalled €187m, or €239m on a comparable basis, up 12.5%, or up 13% on a comparable and fx-neutral basis.

The company affirmed full-year guidance for 2018 including comparable and fx-neutral diluted earnings per share growth of 6-7% as against 2017 comparable results.

Damian Gammell, chief executive said the first-quarter results reflected the company’s continued focus on improving its “in-market execution” and driving profitable revenue growth through strong price mix realisation.

“While pleased with our overall performance, volume growth was impacted during the quarter by unfavourable weather, customer challenges, and the effect of some of our brand realignment decisions.

“We remain confident that we are making the right strategic decisions for the long term and this is reflected in our 2018 outlook, which we have affirmed today,” Mr. Gammell said.

“To achieve this outlook, we are focused on executing our plans over the key summer selling season while navigating through a dynamic trading environment.”

Rival PepsiCo (PEP) posted first-quarter net revenue growth of 4.3% (GAAP) to $12.56bn and organic revenue growth of 2.3% (non-GAAP).

Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive, called the overall results “solid” and said most of the businesses performed “very well”, including a particularly strong showing from its international divisions, propelled by accelerated net revenue growth in developing and emerging markets.

“Although we continued to face challenges in North America Beverages, the sector had sequential improvement in top line momentum since the fourth quarter of 2017.

“We continued investing in and growing share in a number of faster-growing, future-facing categories. However, competitively we recognise the need to step up investments in core carbonated soft drinks, which we intend to responsibly do.

“We believe our plans will drive further improvement as the year progresses. Importantly, we remain on track to achieve the financial targets we set out at the beginning of the year.”

The Hersey Company (HSY) posted consolidated net sales up 4.9% to almost $2bn in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. Reported net income for the first quarter of 2018 was $350.2m.

Michael Buck, president and chief executive said: “First-quarter net sales and earnings per share were in line with our expectations as we continue to make progress in our key strategic focus areas.”

“We continue to drive growth in our core chocolate brands. The Amplify acquisition is on track and delivering accelerated earnings accretion in 2018. We are transforming the international business model, delivering another quarter of profitable growth. And despite heightened cost pressures, we continue to invest in the business and deliver strong earnings growth.”

Dunkin Brands Group (DNKN), Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins parent company posted first-quarter revenue up 1.7% to $301.3m and net income up 13.2% to $50.2m.

SSP Group (SSPG) announced that chairman Vagn Sørensen had stepped down as chairman and non-executive director of Scandic Hotels Group.

FTSE 100 fallers included Devro (DVO) down 1.9% at 211.5p, McBride (MCB), down 1.1% at 152.6p, Tesco (TSCO) trickled down 0.8% to 237.5p and Greggs closed down 0.6% at 1.193p.

Plenty of upward movement for the sector’s stocks by the close with Cranswick (CWK) up 3% at 2,952p, Compass Group (CPG), up 2.3% at 1,529p, British American Tobacco (BATS), up 3% to 3,965p, Associated British Food (ABF), up 1.9% at 2,685p, Fevertree Dinks (FEVR), up 2.6% at 2,766p, Finsbury Food Group (FIF), up 1.8% at 126p, Imperial Brands, up 2.8% at 2,541p and Ocado Group (OCDO), up 3.5% at 521.8p.