Retailers record fastest growth in three years

UK retailers have reported the fastest sales growth in more than three years, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said today.

In a survey of 124 retailers, 48% said sales volumes increased in the year to September, while 17% said they fell, giving a balance of +31%.

This allowed the three-month average sales balance to rise to +33% – the highest since February 2011.

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The clothing sector was particularly strong in October, with retailers reporting an average sales balance of +86%.

Elsewhere, 68% of wholesalers said that sales volumes increased in the year to October, while 13% said they fell, giving a rounded balance of +55% – the highest since September 2007 (+67%), but similar to the growth seen in the previous two months.

Sales are expected to grow at a similarly robust pace in the year to November.

CBI director of economics Rain Newton-Smith said: “Sales on our high streets are still ticking along and, with similar prospects next month, retail growth is looking more stable.

“The clothing sector in particular appears to be bouncing back after the mild weather in September deterred people from buying their winter warmers.

“The recent fall in inflation may help lift the spirits of households by making their budgets stretch further. But risks remain to the UK recovery more generally, with the Eurozone stalling, conflict in the Middle East and tensions over Ukraine. This could have an impact on consumer confidence and spending going forward.”

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