Growth hopes boosted by raft of upbeat data

Ben Southwood
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THE PROSPECTS for growth over the third quarter were boosted yesterday, as insolvencies declined, while retail sales edged up.

High street sales volumes grew in September, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said in its distributive trades survey yesterday.

Thirty-three per cent of respondents said their sales volumes had grown, compared to 27 per cent who said they fell.

This resulted in a balance of plus six per cent, up nine percentage points on last month.

“It is encouraging that sales on the high street have seen a slight rise in the year to September,” said Judith McKenna, Asda chief operating officer and CBI official.

“However, while the squeeze on family budgets may have eased in the short term, thanks to the fall in inflation, ongoing economic fragility…could affect household spending later in the year,” McKenna warned.

This good news for the retail industry came in tandem with data predicting a fall in company insolvencies in the third quarter.

Business liquidations will decrease 2.8 per cent compared to the second quarter, predicted credit agency Graydon, putting them 2.1 per cent lower than the third quarter last year.

But Graydon managing director Alex Schwendtner said firms should be wary. “Companies need to be cautious as a fall in business failures this quarter should not necessarily be taken as reassurance that we are now out of the economic woods,” Schwendtner said.