Retail sales volumes grew at the fastest pace for two years in the year to September following a decline in the previous month’s figures, according to the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey.
In the survey of 55 retail firms, 56% said that sales volumes were up in September compared to a year ago, whilst 15% said they were down, giving a balance of +42% – the highest since September 2015 (+49%).
This was also above expectations of +19%.
Internet sales volumes continued to expand in the year to September, at a faster pace than in the previous month (+54%, compared with +34% in August), and above the long-run average (+48%).
Within the retail sector, the main drivers of growth in overall volumes were the grocery and clothing sectors.
Elsewhere in the distribution sector, wholesalers continued to report above-average growth in sales volumes, which accelerated in the year to September, with growth expected to hold steady in the month ahead.
Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Intelligence, said: “It’s encouraging to see some vigour returning to the retail sector in September, with sales growth picking up from August and consumer demand expected to hold up reasonably well next month.
“But inflation continues to squeeze household budgets, and with the pressure on incomes set to persist, retailers will continue to face a challenging environment.
“The Government has the opportunity to provide a fillip for retailers in the forthcoming Budget – particularly those maintaining a physical presence on the High Street – by bringing forward the switch in the indexation of business rates from RPI to CPI.”