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High street retailers' optimism reaches 12-year high

High street retailers are more optimistic about the next three months of trading than they have been in 12 years, as sales grew strongly in the year to August.

Just over half (51%) of retailers reported their sales volumes were up in the year to August and roughly the same proportion again (49%) expect the pace of growth to accelerate again in the month ahead, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s latest distributive trades survey.

Only 14% said sales volumes were down, and 7% anticipated a drop next month.

Retailers are at their most optimistic about the next quarter than at any time since May 2002, the survey of 142 firms found.

CBI deputy director general Katja Hall said: “The high streets have been bustling with shoppers this summer and it is good to see firms so optimistic about their business prospects for the next three months.

“Retailers looking forward to stronger growth in September are keeping their shelves well-stocked in anticipation.”

Growth in online sales volumes picked up 47% in the year to August and is expected to strengthen further next month at an increased pace of 62%.

Just under two-thirds (63%) of wholesalers reported sales volumes to be up on last year, while 13% said they were down. The survey also showed employment on the high street grew 12% year-on-year, the fastest rate since November 2013.

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