Hardware & DIY, clothing and non-specialist retailers showed the strongest year-on-year sales growth between November 25th and December 8th, according to the latest Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Distributive Trades Survey.
Some 67 per cent of the 121 retailers questioned said that sales during the period were higher than a year ago, with 11 per cent reporting lower trading activity.
The +56 per cent difference was the highest figure reported since April 2002 and the CBI data indicates that there have now been six consecutive months of strong sales.
Ian McCafferty, CBI Chief Economic Adviser, said: “Sales on the high street continued to rise strongly compared with a year ago, reflecting a stronger crucial pre-Christmas trading period.
“However, December’s strong survey balance is also likely to capture spending being brought forward, ahead of the January increase in VAT; indeed, retailers expect sales growth to lose some momentum in the new year.
“We remain cautious about prospects for the retail sector further ahead, given ongoing uncertainty over the resilience of consumer spending.”
The CBI survey’s positive outlook on for the UK’s high street comes despite research company Synovate’s Retail Traffic Index showing that footfall at non-food retail outlets was significantly down year-on-year during the first week of December.
Snowy weather resulted in shopper numbers in northern England falling 20.4 per cent compared to the same week in 2009, while retail footfall slipped 19.3 per cent in Scotland.