[LONDON] British retail sales growth eased unexpectedly in April but shops' optimism about sales in the coming month rose strongly, an industry survey showed on Thursday.
The Confederation of British Industry's retail sales balance fell to +12 in April from +18 in March, confounding economists'expectations for a rise to +25.
The CBI said sales increased across most types of retailers, but sales among grocers declined, hitting overall growth. "With shopping habits changing so dramatically in the last few years underlying consumer confidence is hard to read," said Barry Williams, chair of the CBI survey and a senior executive at Wal-Mart's Asda supermarket chain. "But both retailers and wholesalers are optimistic there will be a spring in their customers' steps, and therefore their sales, in the near future." The gauge of expected sales in the month ahead rose to +40, a three-month high, from +21.