Private sector activity has worst quarter in almost seven years

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has revealed that the private sector has experienced its worst quarter in almost seven years in the three months to June, as the Brexit impasse and poor weather hit economic growth.

The figures suggest that UK economic growth slowed in the second quarter of the year, as the boost from stockpiling ahead of the expected March 29 Brexit date faded. The weakness was also blamed on Brexit-related shutdowns in the car industry.

The business group also revealed that the amount of goods retailers sold in the year to June fell at its fastest pace in 10 years. Only 16 per cent of retailers said that sales volumes were up in June, compared to a year ago, while 58 per cent said they were down, providing a weighted balance of 42 per cent.

Around 11 per cent of retailers expects sales volumes to increase next month, with 15 per cent placing more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago.

Even online sales were broadly flat compared to a year earlier, only increasing by 3 per cent, following growth of 38 per cent in the previous month. The CBI expects internet sales growth to pick up in the year to July by 23 per cent but this remains weaker than the long-run average, which is 46 per cent.

Wholesalers said that sales volumes were up on last year but overall expected them to be down slightly next month. Whilst, orders placed with suppliers fell by 10 per cent.

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