Retail sales hit two-year high in September

Retail sales hit a two-year high in September following a decline in the previous month’s figures, according to the latest survey from the CBI.

The survey found that sales for the time of year were considered to be slightly above seasonal norms.

Orders placed with suppliers also rose, also rebounding from a fall in the previous month. Retailers expect continued growth in both sales and orders in the year to October, albeit at a slower pace.

Growth in internet sales volumes rose in the year to September, to slightly above the long-run average, and are expected to expand at a somewhat slower pace in October.

Within the retail sector, the main drivers of growth in overall volumes were the grocery and clothing sectors. Retailers of furniture & carpets, specialist food & drink stores and sellers of recreational goods reported falling sales volumes.

Elsewhere in the distribution sector, wholesalers continued to report above-average growth in sales volumes, with growth expected to hold steady in the month ahead.

Meanwhile, motor traders reported rising demand in the year to September, with sales growing at the fastest pace in six months.

Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence, said: “It’s encouraging to see some vigour returning to the retail sector in September, with sales growth picking up from August and consumer demand expected to hold up reasonably well next month.

“But inflation continues to squeeze household budgets, and with the pressure on incomes set to persist, retailers will continue to face a challenging environment.

“The Government has the opportunity to provide a fillip for retailers in the forthcoming Budget – particularly those maintaining a physical presence on the High Street – by bringing forward the switch in the indexation of business rates from RPI to CPI.”

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