Retail sales grew at a faster pace than expected in January, helped by the strongest rise in clothing sales for two years, according to CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey.
The survey of 127 firms showed that whilst sales volumes grew at a slower pace than in the previous month – which benefitted from bumper Black Friday sales – the rate of growth remained healthy, and volumes were well above average for the time of year.
Half the retailers surveyed said that sales volumes were up in January on a year ago, whilst 10% said they were down, giving a rounded balance of +39%, above expectations of +35%.
Sales volumes grew particularly strongly in clothing (+91%), the strongest rise since February 2013, while the volume of internet sales rose +49% in the year to January, broadly in line with the long-run average (+52%).
CBI director of economics Rain Newton-Smith said: “After the sales bonanza of Black Friday cooled down, retailers saw solid footfall through the doors over the Christmas trading period, leading to further robust growth in sales in the New Year. However, under the spotlight of strong competition, some retailers are feeling the heat on their margins.
“Falling oil prices and low inflation mean consumers have a bit more money in their pockets. We expect to see this translate into strong sales growth in the months ahead.”