The balmy summer weather drove much faster than expected growth in British retail sales in July, a new survey shows.
Almost half of the 111 large firms surveyed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported a rise in volume for retail sales compared to the same month last year.
The 22 per cent positive balance of retailers reporting growth represented the fastest sales increase since April, when a late Easter distorted figures. Before that the fastest rise came in December.
The bounce back of the retail trade at the start of summer was the main driver of growth in the second quarter of the year, according to preliminary Office for National Statistics data released yesterday.
The hotter than usual weather has been credited anecdotally for the rise in retail sales. Government data recorded a 0.6 per cent increase in sales over the second quarter. Today's survey suggests the stronger performance could continue, after the first quarter proved to be the worst in seven years.
The rise in sales volumes could also provide much needed succour to an industry which has been struggling with the hit to margins as they are forced to contend with higher import prices which drive up inflation.
Expectations for August remained healthy, with a balance of 20 per cent of retailers expecting a sales volume rise in the next month, the strongest since December.
Order volumes placed on suppliers stayed steady at a positive balance of 10, with a slight pick-up in orders expected in August.
The growth was led by grocers and chemists, although the motor trade sector saw the fastest decline in sales since November 2013. Some 45 per cent of the motor traders surveyed thought sales volumes were down.
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