UK high street sales dropped for the seventh month in a row this month, according to new data from the CBI, with specialist food shops among the hardest hit.

The latest CBI distributive traders survey found 50% more of retailers reporting lower sales than a year ago, against just 23% reporting higher sales.

The 27% differential represents the same proportion as last month’s poll.

However, more than three-quarters (80%) of specialist food outlets reported a reduction in sales as consumers tighten their belts and cut out ‘luxury’ purchases.
Asda retail director Andy Clarke, who heads the CBI’s distributive trades panel, said worries over the economy and unemployment were responsible for spiraling consumer confidence and warned that retailers faced further struggles ahead of the key Christmas period.

“The sector looks set to endure a very challenging run-up to Christmas,” Clarke said. “We are hoping the recent drop in interest rates will cut consumers and businesses some slack as it feeds through to the wider economy.”