Retailers enjoy a third month of sales growth

Ben Southwood
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RETAIL sales growth accelerated in November, industry data out yesterday indicated, marking the third month of expansion after August’s small decline.

The net balance of retailers who reported a rise in sales year-on-year rose to plus 33 per cent in November from plus 30 per cent in October, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said.

And businesses thought this sales growth could continue – a net balance of plus 25 per cent told the CBI they thought their volumes could go up in December, slightly down from the plus 27 per cent who had predicted growth in November.

“This month’s survey is reason to be cheerful as we head into the festive period,” said Anna Leach at the CBI. “Retailers at the board will be heartened by these encouraging results,” she added, highlighting the increase in employment as particularly positive.

Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight agreed the news was encouraging, and cited the recent slowdown in inflation as a major factor.

But he said the recent bump in consumer price inflation, bringing it back up to 2.7 per cent, after it had fallen down to 2.2 per cent, meant there was a risk that purchasing power will be squeezed before Christmas.

But retailers did not appear to share his worries, with a net balance of seven per cent expecting their overall business situation to improve.