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High street sales ahead of expectations in July

High street retail sales increased in July, and were ahead of expectations, the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey has found.

According to the report, 51% of those retailers polled said sales had increased compared to the same month last year and 18% reported a decline, resulting in a positive balance of 33%. It is the highest positive balance since April 2007. The CBI had expected a +11% balance in July based on the findings of June’s survey.

Clothing and footwear were among the strongest sub-sectors over the month. A balance of +45% is forecast for August. If achieved, it would be the most positive balance figure since June 2004 when it reached +46%.

Wholesaling has not fared as well during the month however, with 42% of wholesalers saying that the volume of trade was lower year-on-year and 31% reporting an increase. This resulted in a balance of -11%, notably lower than the +26% figure reported in June. The dip is expected to continue into next month with an even lower balance of -18% predicted.

CBI head of economic analysis, Lai Wah, said: “High street sales have performed well this month, with growth better than retailers predicted.

“Retailers are optimistic that strong sales growth will continue next month, which is promising. We still expect the recovery in overall consumer spending to be fairly restrained, however, given concerns about the impact of public spending cuts and weak prospects for real take-home pay in the coming year.”

Meanwhile, the CBI has announced that the Distributive Trades Survey has been reclassified and re-weighted to bring the data in line with the latest UK and European Commission official classification systems. The changes affect the sub-sector listings for retailing and wholesale, including the introduction of several new retail subsectors, such as cultural goods and recreational goods. Equivalent historical figures are provided to allow comparison over time.

The CBI said that the long-term trends in the headline retail and wholesale figures under the previous classification and weights, and the new system, are very similar.

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