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Strong growth in retail sales in July boosts recovery optimism

THE high street breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as retail sales rose twice as fast as expected in July.<br /><br />Official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that sales volumes rose 0.4 per cent in July on the previous month and were up 3.3 per cent on July 2008.<br /><br />For predominantly food stores, sales volume increased by 1.4 per cent in the three months to June, the highest rise since 2007. Positively, predominantly non-food stores &ndash; which tend to sell more non-essential items &ndash; also saw an increase of one per cent.<br /><br />The data boosted economists&rsquo; hopes that the UK&rsquo;s recession was beginning to ease. ING&rsquo;s James Knightley said: &ldquo;The gains in retail sales give us greater confidence that GDP will rise in the third quarter meaning that the UK exits recession.&rdquo;