High street shows continuing signs of growth with positive outlook for Easter

THE UK high street has been unable to sustain its strong February sales growth this month, but the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) monthly distributive trades survey showed UK retailers still experienced an increase in sales volumes.

Encouragingly, the CBI also said that retailers are expecting a similar pace of growth over the Easter period. A net 13 per cent of retailers said that sales volumes in the first half of March were higher when compared against the same period in 2009. And a net 14 per cent think that sales will be higher in April than they were a year ago.

Grocers and durable household goods retailers reported very strong annual sales growth while clothing shops and furniture and carpet retailers continued to see sales growth, albeit at a much slower pace than in February.

Brian Hilliard at Societe Generale said: “The prospects for retail sales this year are challenging with inflation at a higher average than last year and GDP growth remaining weak but, broadly speaking, the consumer has been resilient.”

He added: “The surprising signs of a stabilisation in the labour market might be exaggerating the improvement in underlying conditions but in the short term they are helping to support consumer confidence which will provide a further support for retail sales.”