Retail sales volumes were up for the second month running in November, and further growth is expected next month, according to figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The CBI’s latest Distributive Trades Survey also showed that business sentiment about the retail sector over the coming three months is now positive for the first time since August 2007.
40% of retailers said that their volume of sales in the year to November had risen, while 27% said they fell. Footwear and leather retailers reported stronger growth in November, while sales fell in the clothing sector.
Stock levels fell back slightly from their position in October and 8% of firms now say that stocks are adequate to meet demand. Retail prices continued to grow but at a slightly slower rate.
Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and chief operating officer at Asda, said: “It’s reassuring that the high street now has a second month of sales growth behind it, and it looks like December will be even better. A lot of retailers have suffered during 2009, and many are relieved that the year is ending on a more positive note.”
He added: “Despite the more upbeat mood and pre-Christmas sales growth, consumers are still worried about job losses and a weak economy. In 2010 the high street will find that recovery is fragile and slow. Christmas aside, this December will also be busy because shoppers are trying to beat the VAT rise in January, and many retailers are starting to target that behaviour.”
Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: “Christmas is in full swing on the high street, and retailers have their sights set firmly on bringing customers in-store to spend early with many opting to advance their seasonal sales or for flash discounting. Sales as a result are looking more healthy.”