U.K. CBI Retail-Sales Index Fell to Five-Month Low in February

An index of U.K. retail sales fell more than economists forecast to a five-month low in February, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

The gauge of annual sales growth dropped to 8 from 17 in January, the London-based business lobby group said today. Economists had forecast a decline to 16, according to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. A quarterly measure of employment also fell.

Grocers reported the largest fall in sales since November 2008, while clothing, furniture and carpet and non-store retailers posted “strong growth,” the CBI said. An index of expected sales for March was 9, indicating shops predict volumes will grow at a “broadly similar” pace.

A gauge of the volume of orders placed with suppliers plunged 34 points to minus 19 in February, the lowest since November 2011, while a measure of sales volumes for the time of year dropped to minus 20 from 1.

Within the quarterly report, the gauge of employment fell to minus 7 in February from 7 in November, while an index of selling prices climbed to 40 from 25. A measure of retailers’ outlook for the business situation in the coming three months rose to 12, the highest since August 2010. Still, investment intentions for the year ahead were “modestly negative,” the CBI said.

The survey of 70 retailers was conducted between Jan. 24 and Feb. 13.