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The mighty British shopper.

Retail sales growth picked up again in December, gaining at the fastest pace since September 2015, the CBI says, though the decline in sterling is likely to tap on the brakes in 2017.

The CBI’s survey of 53 retailers said clothing and groceries performed well, as did cars. In total, 51 per cent of retailers said sales volumes were up in December, while 16 per cent said they were down, giving a balance of 35 per cent. Economists polled by Bloomberg had pencilled in a positive reading of 20 per cent, from 26 in November.

Over a quarter of retailers said sales volumes were above average for the time of year, while 5 per cent said they were lower.

Ben Jones, an economist at the CBI, said:

It’s encouraging to see retailers reporting another month of healthy sales growth leading up to the festive season, which rounds off a fairly solid quarter.

While we still expect to see decent growth in the near term, the pressures on retail activity are likely to increase during 2017, as the impact of sterling’s depreciation feeds through.

With higher inflation beginning to weigh on households’ purchasing power, consumption patterns are likely to shift, creating winners and losers across the retail landscape.

The Office for National Statistics also reported upbeat retail sales data for November last week.

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