Belfast Telegraph

Warm end to summer boosts retail sales with shoppers 'pounding the high street'

Retail sales grew at their fastest pace in over a year as shoppers pounded the high street for autumn clothes after an unseasonably warm end to the summer, a survey has found.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) monthly Distributive Trades Survey of 126 firms showed above-average sales for the time of year, with 40% of retailers reporting increased sales volumes in October on a year ago and 19% saying they were down.

The figures gave a balance of +21%, well above expectations of +7% and an improvement on the previous month's balance of -8%.

The expected sales balance for November also rose sharply to +21% from +7%, a level last seen in December, and orders placed with suppliers were the strongest since March, although they are expected to dip in November.

CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said: "With our Indian Summer now a distant memory, shoppers have been pounding the high street, with sales of clothing and other retailers outpacing expectations."

But the CBI warned that the slide in the pound since Britain voted to leave the EU was likely to push up prices next year, affecting consumer spending power.

Ms Newton-Smith added: "With employment still rising and the unemployment rate at an 11-year low, household spending still has some momentum in the short-term, but we do expect the fall in the value of the pound to push up prices through the course of next year, hitting people's purchasing power."

Official data last week showed British retail sales recorded their strongest quarter of growth since late 2014 in the three months to September, but warm weather and higher prices dented demand for new clothing towards the end of the period.