Retail sales volumes grew year-on-year for the third consecutive month in November, according to new figures, welcome news in the crucial run-up to Christmas.
According to the CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey, which also cover the first two weeks of this month, 49 per cent of retailers saw a sales volumes increase compared with the same period last year as 16 per cent reported a reduction.
The overall balance of 33 per cent is the highest since June 2012, a period boosted by public anticipation over the start of the highly anticipated Olympic Games and is ahead of expectations for the period.
Across individual retail sub-sectors, nine of 13 reported a rise as grocers saw positive volumes growth for the seventh consecutive month at +33 per cent while clothing, though below October’s figure, reported a year-on-year boost to +29 per cent.
Meanwhile, retail price inflation slowed over the third quarter to +25, its slowest in three years though remaining in line with forecasts.
While this is positive news for the industry which has continued to tread water this year as the economy remained unstable, retailers noted that the volume of sales is below average for the time of year and the CBI warned that growth is set to decelerate slightly in December.
Sales are expected to align themselves with expectations next month while inflation should continue at +24 per cent and employment is likely to increase to an expected +9 per cent.
Looking ahead to 2013, retailers said the business situation to improve the most in two years over the next three months while employment growth is to hit +7 per cent, following a low of -25 in August.
Commenting on the results, Head of Economic Analysis at CBI Anna Leach said: “This months’ survey is reason to be cheerful as we head into the festive period.
“Retailers across the board will be heartened by these encouraging results. The increase in employment, along with expectations for improvement in the business situation over the next quarter, point to a welcome boost to the sector.
“But the fact that retailers are still reluctant to authorise new capital expenditure shows that there is some way to go before activity on the high street is back to normal.”