[LONDON] British retailers reported the fastest sales growth in more than three years in the three months to October, dispelling fears of a slowdown, the Confederation of British Industry said on Monday.
The CBI said that its October retail sales balance held steady at +31, in contrast to economists' forecasts of a fall to +25. This allowed the three-month average retail sales balance to rise to +33 from +30, its highest level since Feb 2011.
The figures contrast with gloomier data for September from the British Retail Consortium, whose members reported the biggest drop in sales in years, after unusually warm weather discouraged shoppers from buying winter fashions. "The clothing sector in particular appears to be bouncing back after the mild weather in September," said Rain Newton-Smith, director of economics at the CBI.
Sales volumes also rose at supermarkets, which are in the middle of a price war, and Newton-Smith said a recent fall in inflation to its lowest in five years might also encourage shoppers to buy more.
However consumer morale might weaken in future if risks to Britain's economic recovery from the euro zone and conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine intensify, she added.