High street sales dropped sharply in July and the outlook for this month is bleak, according to the CBI's latest poll of retailers -
whom said sales were lower than a year ago, compared with just 25% who saw them rise. The resulting balance of -36 points was the weakest since the survey began in 1983, and similarly poor sales are predicted for August. Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and retail director of Asda, said: "It is turning out to be a very grim summer for many retailers. Pressure from higher fuel and food prices is prompting many people to rein in their spending, proving that value retailing has never been more important. The faltering housing market has really depressed sales of home furnishings and white goods this month and the high street is still struggling, but supermarkets are faring better. The retail sector will have to focus
on providing good value to customers ." Grocers, including supermarkets, and footwear and leather retailers were the only sectors to report year-on-year sales growth.