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High street sales 'best since June'

There has been another dose of good news for the economy after figures showed better-than-expected sales growth on the high street.

The latest CBI survey, covering the first half of October, revealed 47% of retailers saw sales rise on a year earlier, while 17% said sales were down, giving a balance of 30.

The result is the best since June, when sales were lifted by the extra bank holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and offers a much-needed boost for retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

Shop owners also believe the rebound will continue next month, with a balance of 27% expecting sales to be higher in November.

The CBI said consumer confidence has been helped by falling inflation after the Consumer Prices Index fell to 2.2% last month, marking its lowest level for nearly three years.

Anna Leach, head of economic analysis at the CBI, said: "Falling inflation has somewhat eased pressures on family budgets, so that households are a little more willing to spend."

The survey adds to hopes that Britain's economy will remain on the mend after emerging from its double dip recession with stronger-than-expected growth of 1% in the third quarter.

But economists added a note of caution as consumers are expected to come under pressure from rising energy bills and amid concern over the global economy.

Ms Leach said: "There's still a risk that ongoing uncertainty over the global economic outlook could dent consumer confidence, hitting prospects for the retail sector, while the scope for inflation to fall further is limited."

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "It remains to be seen if consumers will sustain their recent improved spending, given that they still face significant headwinds and consumer price inflation could well move back up in the near term."

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