CBI sees healthy high-street sales follow summer lull

The CBU says that growth in retail sales picked up in October, relative to the slower pace of the previous four months, but adds that growth was still slower than expected and remained well below the high rates reported in the first half of 2002.

The CBI&#39s monthly Distributive Trades Survey (DTS), says 44% of firms saw sales rise compared with a year a go, while 19% saw a fall. The balance of plus 25% is the best since May, but is still significantly lower than the average of plus 40% recorded between January and April.

The three month moving average, which smoothes out month-to-month fluctuations, therefore rose slightly but by less than expected, remaining well below the rates seen earlier this year.

As sales of the winter ranges take off, retailers hope for a further rally in sales growth in the year to November. Nevertheless retailers reported below average sales for the time of year, for the third consecutive survey. This last occurred in mid-1999.