Sales increased in July compared with a year ago, and surpassed expectations, according to the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey. Retailers expect sales growth to continue strongly next month.
It found that while 18 per cent of retailers said that sales were lower than a year ago, 51 per cent said they rose. This compares with an expected figure of plus-11 per cent based on survey findings last month, and was the highest balance since April 2007 (plus-44 per cent).
Annual summer discounts, the World Cup and warm weather appear to have encouraged high-street sales, the leading business group said.
Looking to August, a balance of plus-45 per cent expects a higher volume of sales next month - the most positive figure since June 2004 (plus-46 per cent).
Lai Wah Co, CBI head of economic analysis, said:
"High street sales have performed well this month, with growth better than retailers predicted. Annual summer discounts and warm weather helped lift sales of clothing, while grocers and durable household goods retailers appear to have benefitted from a World Cup boost to sales of food, drink and new televisions.
"Retailers are optimistic that strong sales growth will continue next month, which is promising. We still expect the recovery in overall consumer spending to be fairly restrained, however, given concerns about the impact of public spending cuts and weak prospects for real take-home pay in the coming year."