Retail optimism soars to highest level since 2002

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CBI survey shows 51% of retailers experienced higher sales in August.

Retailers are at their most optimistic since 2002, with 51% of respondents reporting higher sales volumes, according to a new survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Retail sales grew strongly in the year to August with the pace of growth expected to accelerate again in September, according to CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey.

The survey of 142 firms showed that sales were broadly average for the time of the year, with retailers more optimistic about their business situation for the next quarter than at any time since May 2002.

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Internet sales continued to pick up in August, with e-sales expected to strengthen in September and in the months up to Christmas.

Growth in internet sales volumes also picked up in the year to August, and is expected to strengthen further next month.

51% of respondents reported improved sales volumes, versus 14% who said they’d gone down, leading to a balance of 37%.

Just 7% of retailers expect sales volumes to fall in September, with 25% of those surveyed predicting positive business developments over the next three months.

Additionally, 28% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 19% placed fewer, resulting in a rounded balance of 10%.

The volume of internet sales rose strongly by 47% and is expected by 62% of respondents to grow at an even faster pace next month.

For wholesalers, 63% reported higher sales volumes compared to last year.

CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall, explained: “The high streets have been bustling with shoppers this summer and it is good to see firms so optimistic about their business prospects for the next three months – higher than at any time since 2002. Retailers looking forward to stronger growth in September are keeping their shelves well-stocked in anticipation.”

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