April 24, 2014 12:47 pm

Confidence soars among UK retailers, CBI survey finds

Pedestrians walk by shops on the high street Guildford, UK©Bloomberg

Retailers’ confidence in future growth is now at its highest level in more than three years following five consecutive months of rising sales.

The survey from the CBI, the UK employers’ organisation, shows 42 per cent of respondents reporting sales volumes in April were up on the previous year, with only 12 per cent saying they were down, leaving a positive balance of 30 per cent.

This is substantially higher than the 13 per cent balance recorded the previous month, though the CBI has suggested March’s figures were hit by a later Easter this year.

Sales have now increased year on year for five consecutive months, adding to a run of positive data on the UK economy.

A balance of 43 per cent of retailers believe sales will grow robustly in May, the highest expected growth since December 2010.

Barry Williams, chair of the CBI survey panel, said: “The high street has a spring in its step – retailers performed well in April and enjoyed a strong rise in sales compared with this time last year. It’s a welcome rebound from March, largely down to the later timing of Mother’s day and Easter.”

Sales volumes were particularly strong for grocers, footwear and hardware and DIY sales.

Richard Lowe, head of retail at Barclays, said the data were welcome news for the sector, adding: “Economic indicators remain positive, including recent reports that wage growth is overtaking inflation. Retailers will now be hoping that this news will continue to bolster consumer confidence as the year progresses, although sales growth is likely to be slow and steady.”

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