UK clothing and department stores are seeing a big upward swing in sales volumes, says the Confederation of British Industry. British retailers reported their strongest pre-Christmas demand since 2015. Christmas seems to have come early for retailers. Although stock levels are adequate for the first time in seven months, previous shortages of some goods appears to have made shoppers want to make their purchases earlier this year. Retail sales rose in October 2021 for the first time since April. British retail sales surged in March and April when shops reopened after a lockdown, but then fell steadily as other businesses reopened and consumers faced a wider range of spending options.
There is also evidence of surging price pressures in Britain, which may push the Bank of England to raise interest rates very soon for the first time since the start of pandemic. Retailers have reported the most widespread rise in prices since May 1990. Employment in the sector - which has been under long-term pressure from online retail - also rose for the first time since November 2016. Overall, retailers are becoming more optimistic, with both employment growth and investment intentions picking up strongly. Cost pressures remain a very real concern, however.