High street sales rebound in Christmas run-up
RETAIL sales gained momentum over the first part of December after a lacklustre performance in the autumn, the CBI said.
Grocers, department stores and clothing shops, which had seen sales fall in the year to November, enjoyed a rebound over the festive shopping period, the latest distributive trades survey showed.
In the poll of 106 firms, 48% of respondents reported that their sales were up on a year ago, while 14% said they were down. The balance of plus 34% was above expectations for a figure of 24%.
Barry Williams, Asda's chief merchandising officer and chairman of the survey panel, said retailers expected robust growth in sales volumes to continue in the year to January.
He said: "After a disappointing couple of months, sales volumes in December recovered their sparkle, beating retailers' expectations.
"Customers have clearly held off spending through the autumn and we're only now seeing them start to hit the stores."
The survey failed to inspire shares in London retail stocks, with Marks & Spencer down more than 3%, while investor uncertainty was also reflected in falls for supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury's.