DSGi chief executive John Browett has voiced optimism that the consumer economy is improving after shoppers proved willing to trade up in recent months.

Browett was anxious not to call the end of the recession, but said the consumer mood is “less pessimistic” than early this year. He believed the next month or two, when like-for-like comparisons can be made against last year’s financial crash, will be a key indicator of sentiment.

DSGi posted a 6% fall in group like-for-likes for the 16 weeks ending August 22, beating expectations, thanks in part to a strong showing by Scandinavian division Elkjøp. Browett said: “It’s a pleasant change not to be below expectations.”

He observed: “The middle of the market has come back, which says normal customers are less worried about losing their jobs.” Shoppers are, for instance, upgrading to 3GB laptops rather than settling for 2GB.

Browett said the January VAT rise was unlikely to affect consumer sentiment as much as bigger issues such as general confidence in the economy, and saw no need to being forward Sales to counter the hike.

DSGi posted like-for-like falls of 14% and 15% respectively at its UK electricals and computing arms, and has sold its Polish business for E1.

➤ US electricals retailer Best Buy has gone live with its UK website – not yet transactional – to recruit staff for its debut next year.