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Retailing troubles highlighted by Asda’s CFO


Judith McKenna reflects on CBI’s latest survey

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Rising commodity prices are taking their toll on consumer spending with higher-priced goods increasingly out of reach for British households, according to Judith McKenna, Asda’s chief financial officer (CFO).

McKenna is chair of the distributive trades panel at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), whose latest figures show a slight growth in year-on-year sales in April but reveal a lack of optimism within the retail sector as a whole.

“Retailers are having to pull out all the stops to achieve sales growth and this month was no exception,” McKenna said. “The squeeze on people’s pockets from rising commodity prices means consumers are seeking out value wherever they can.”

Sellers of hardware or DIY products and “consumer durables” in general are among those facing the sternest pressures on their sales in the near term, said McKenna, CFO at the UK’s second largest supermarket chain.

A CBI report on the subject showed most UK retailers considered April to have been an “unseasonably poor” period in terms of sales figures for the third month in succession.

The CBI’s chief economic advisor Ian McCafferty said: “With few signs of demand picking up rapidly in the coming months, conditions on the high street look like remaining tough for retailers.

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Retailing troubles highlighted by Asda’s CFO
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