High street sales grow at fastest pace in over a year

Winter brings a retail boost
Winter brings a retail boost

High street sales grew at their fastest pace in more than a year in the 12 months to November, as colder weather prompted shoppers to stock up on winter clothes.

The CBI’s distributive trades survey showed that sales volumes were “well above average” for this time of year, and are expected to rise at a similar pace next month.

It found that 42% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in November compared with a year ago, with 16% reporting a drop, giving a balance of +26%, which was the highest level since September 2015.

Expectations had been for a balance of +21%, the CBI said.

It comes amid growth in clothing sales volumes at a balance of +95% and hardware and DIY sales at a balance of +62%.

Internet sales growth was also higher than average at a balance of +51% compared with +37% in October.

CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said: “It’s great to see retailers reporting such a buoyant month for sales. With the later onset of cold weather, shoppers stocking up their winter wardrobe has helped to boost high street sales.

“While we expect to see decent growth in the near term, retailers are keeping a close eye on price rises coming down the track and the impact on consumer spending.”

UK firms are widely expected to pass on rising import costs to consumers following the collapse of the pound which has fallen 17% against the dollar since the EU referendum.