Figures expected to continue into next month
Retail sales this month have improved compared to last year for 42 per cent of retailers, while 28 per cent experienced a downturn. Based on retailer estimates, growth is expected to continue into next month, according to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

The best comparative sales figures were reported from the durable household goods sector. Demand for new LCD and plasma remains strong. Sales of furniture and carpets were also good. In the clothing sector, the new autumn ranges helped stores enjoy their best month since June.

In several sectors, more retailers reported a fall in sales compared to last year than those reporting an upturn. These include shops selling footwear, leather, chemist products, confectionery, tobacco and news.

'Six months of growth is good news for retailers and reflects continuing consumer confidence. The lively housing market means consumers are putting their money into larger items, such as furniture, carpets and TVs,' said CBI's DTS panel chairman and Asda executive director John Longworth.

However, with inflation continuing to rise, retailers face the fear of a further increase in interest rates, he added.

Capital Economics UK economist Vicky Redwood said the CBI results were good considering that the relatively mild weather was believed to have kept shoppers away from the high street.

She thought it likely that the Monetary Policy Committee will vote to raise interest rates again before the end of the year, especially with the consumer sector still holding up well, though there was no certainty that the rate hike would come in November.