CBI: recovery on way for the high street

SALES on Britain&rsquo;s high streets grew in October at their fastest annual rate in almost two years, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said yesterday, raising hopes that the retail sector will see a recovery sooner rather than later.<br /><br />In its monthly distributive trades survey, the business lobby said that a net balance of eight per cent of retailers reported that sales had risen and a net 19 per cent expect sales volumes to continue growing in November, the most optimistic since July 2007.<br /><br />Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and chief operating officer of Asda, said: &ldquo;The latest official data shows the economy is still in recession, however the retail sector seems to be finding its feet again after a challenging year, and the outlook for November is encouraging. But overall the economy remains troubled and some retailers will find the recovery slow and painful.&rdquo;<br /><br />The CBI report was especially welcome after weak third quarter GDP data, but analysts warned that the improvements were more a reflection of previous weakness last October &ndash; in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers &ndash; than of current strength of sales.