Retail sales rebound after sharp dip

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Retail sales rebounded in the year to November but stores once again expect a deterioration over the next quarter, figures show.

October saw the strongest growth in average selling prices in more than 26 years, with similar figures expected next month, according to the CBI Quarterly Distributive Trades Survey of 128 firms.

Orders placed with suppliers also rose at a solid rate over the year and are set to grow at a similar pace next month.

It follows retail sales declining sharply in the year to October as stores began to feel the effects of higher inflation.

Grocers and clothing retailers reported robust sales in the latest survey but "tepid" trading conditions led to employment declining in the year to November for the fourth quarter running, and is set to fall again in the year to December.

Overall, 39% of respondents reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago and 13% said they were down, giving a balance of 26%.

Retailers expect sales volumes to pick up again next month, with 39% expecting them to rise and 9% to fall.

But they once again expect the business situation to deteriorate - albeit marginally - over the next quarter, although investment spending is expected to grow slightly for the second consecutive quarter.

CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said: "It's great to see retail sales rebound this month after a big dip, but let's be clear: our high streets are not out of the woods.

"Ahead of the crucial run-up to Christmas, the weaker pound has pushed up prices and retailers are nervous about business conditions and are trimming their workforces.

"The relief from the rising burden of business rates in the Chancellor's Budget will be welcome on the UK's high streets, as will the investment in local transport connections and housing which should support our local communities, but the job is not done, now is the time for swift delivery."


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