Strong demand for autumn fashions, combined with the ongoing supermarket price war, helped retail sales comfortably beat expectations this month.
The latest survey from the CBI gave an upbeat picture of the high street as the number of retailers who said sales rose in September, compared with those who said they fell, hit a positive balance of 49 per cent, against expectations of 35 per cent. It was the report’s highest level since May.
The survey added that the number of retailers who reported sales volumes above average for the time of year was at a balance of plus 35 per cent, the highest since April 2007. Economists had expected a balance of 21 per cent.
Key drivers of retail demand were grocery and clothing sales, with shoppers buoyed by rising wages and low inflation.
Retailers are also positive over the longer term, with a balance of 51 per cent saying they expect sales volumes to increase over the coming 12 months.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of economics, said: “As the summer has been drawing to a close, consumers have been out on the high street boosting sales and orders for UK retailers.
“Low inflation and the recovery in wage growth are helping to stimulate consumer demand, but the slowdown in the global economy and tight margins mean retailers won’t get ahead of themselves as we head into autumn.”
She added: “Clothing and the food and drink sectors have led the way, and with the general outlook for the UK economy remaining positive, the expectation is that there will be further encouraging results next month.”