Distributive Trades survey
The survey is conducted on a monthly and quarterly basis and covers 24 sectors of UK retail, wholesale and motor trade activity. It celebrates its 30th anniversary this July and we would like to thank our loyal survey participants who have responded to the survey over this period. It has been of the highest value to the CBI’s continuing assessment of these vital sectors of the economy
This qualitative business survey has been conducted since July 1983 and is completed by senior executives and owner-proprietors. Both the monthly and the quarterly surveys now include questions relating to sales via the internet.
Want to take part in our business surveys? Contact the team
This survey is widely reported as the CBI's 'High Street' survey. The results of this survey are circulated in advance of publication for discussion by the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel. The panel is made up of senior executives from across the sector and is chaired by Judith McKenna, Chief Operating Officer at Asda.
This survey is conducted on a monthly and quarterly basis with the monthly surveys carried out in the intervening months of January, March, April, June, July, September, October and December. The same sample of firms is used each month and the same degree of individual activity data is prepared.
The survey is classified according to the official Standard Industrial Classification (SIC 2007) and the survey weights are now updated on an annual basis. It provides a wide range of disaggregated sector information across retail, wholesale and motor trades activity.
The quarterly and monthly surveys both cover volume of sales, orders on suppliers, sales for the time of year and stocks, while the quarterly survey also covers imports, selling prices, numbers employed, investment and business situation. Both monthly and quarterly surveys now contain questions on current and expected internet sales and average prices for internet goods.
The processed responses convert to raw weighted data from which are derived percentage balances. The percentage balance statistic is the figure derived from the difference between the weighted percentage of companies answering in the positive, minus the percentage replying in the negative. This allows a single number with a plus or minus value to thus represent the answer to any question. Since most of the questions refer to changes in the level of a variable, the absolute value of a balance will give a guide to the change in the variable concerned.
All participants receive a free digest of the latest results of the survey.
News and publications
Growth in retail sales rebounds – CBI
Retail sales grew strongly in the year to April and are expected to grow at an even faster pace next month, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey
Retail sales continue to grow but at slower pace – CBI
Retail sales grew again in the year to March, although at a slower pace, but growth next month is expected to rebound strongly
The three retail revolutions in the past 30 years
Much has changed for shoppers - and shops - since the CBI's distributive trades survey, which tracks UK retail sales, launched in the early 1980s
CBI’s retail barometer celebrates 30th birthday
Survey 'has continued to inform policy throughout the changing economic climate of the last three decades'
High street sales rise again - CBI survey
Retail sales grew strongly in the year to February, beating expectations, and at the fastest pace since June 2012, according to the CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey
New year retail sales growth modest
There was modest high-street sales growth in the year to January, according to the latest CBI Monthly Distributive Trades Survey
High Street sales recover their sparkle - CBI
Retail sales have recovered strongly in the year to December, bouncing back after two disappointing months, the CBI said today (Wednesday).
High street sales stall but growth expected to return - CBI
High street sales were flat in the year to October, disappointing retailers’ expectations for another solid rise, but robust growth is expected to return next month, the CBI said today
CBI/EC Harris unveil blueprint for delivery of next generation of UK towns and cities
The CBI and EC Harris today unveiled a package of measures for the public and private sectors to work together to unlock local growth, overhaul business rates and rejuvenate the UK’s towns and cities
Retail sales rise for the first time in five months
CBI says a return to modest high street spending is welcome news - but consumer confidence will not bounce back fully until family finances improve significantly.