High street sales continued to strengthen during the first half of February according to the CBI, although the pace of growth slowed.
According to its Distributive Trades Survey the clothing sector reported its highest figure since October 2010 with a net 91% of retailers reporting a positive period.
Across the high street, 37% of general retailers saw an increase in their volume of sales, while 29% said there had been a reduction. This meant that the resulting balance was 8%, the lowest figure since September 2012 and the third consecutive month in which the pace of growth has slowed. In January it was 17%, in December retailers reported a balance of 19%, while in November it was 33%.
Retailers expect to see little change in March, with retailers expecting the volume of sales to grow by 9%. However, more are positive about the general business situation over the next three months, with a balance of 12%compared to 7% last month.
Barry Williams, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel and Asda chief merchandising officer for food, said: “We all know trading is tough, and the bad weather hasn’t exactly been encouraging shoppers to hit the high street lately. But there is a glimmer of hope for retailers with the news that sales are growing, even if at a slower pace than in recent months.
“Clearly, the road to recovery remains fragile. Worries about the economy, pay freezes and the rising cost of living will mean shoppers remain cautious for the foreseeable future.”