The latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey has showed that for December, 67 per cent of retailers said that sales were higher than a year ago, while just 11 per cent said they were lower, giving a balance of + 56 per cent, the highest figure since April 2002.
This means there have now been six months of strong sales figures in a row since July.
The balance for the three-month moving average edged higher to + 45 per cent. However, retailers anticipate slower growth next month, with a balance of + 35 per cent expecting the volume of sales to be higher than a year ago.
The balance for the volume of orders placed upon suppliers is up 52 per cent, although the balance for January of + 24 per cent suggests a slower rate of growth.
Ian McCafferty, CBI chief economic adviser, said: “Sales on the high street continued to rise strongly compared with a year ago, reflecting a stronger crucial pre-Christmas trading period.
“However, December’s strong survey balance is also likely to capture spending being brought forward, ahead of the January increase in VAT. Indeed, retailers expect sales growth to lose some momentum in the New Year.
"We remain cautious about prospects for the retail sector further ahead, given ongoing uncertainty over the resilience of consumer spending.”