Retail sales in October were higher than the same month a year ago following a strong performance from fashion, according to the CBI’s monthly Distributive Trades Survey.

It is the fourth month in a row that sales have increased and retailers forecast that sales would continue to rise next month.

Some 58% of retailers polled said that the volume of sales rose during October, compared with 22% of retailers who said sales fell, giving a positive balance of 36%.

The figure was lower than the +47% forecast for the month and September’s balance of +49%.

During October, a positive balance of 20% of retailers said sales were above average for the time of the year, the highest balance since May 2007 when the figure was +21%. 

The clothing and footwear and leather sub-sectors were key performers during the month. Household goods was slower, but still up 22%.

Looking ahead to next month, a positive balance of 43% of retailers expect higher volume of sales than a year ago.

Volumes of orders placed with suppliers rose year-on-year for the fourth consecutive month with a positive balance of  30%, below last month’s prediction of +40%.

In wholesaling, sales volumes were flat in October in contrast to expectations of growth. A balance of +3% of wholesalers said volumes were higher than a year ago, with the same figure expected next month.

Lai Wah Co, CBI head of economic analysis, said: “Retailers expect sales growth to continue next month, in the run-up to Christmas. We should also see more of a boost to sales as shoppers look to beat the New Year VAT rise, but looking beyond that, broader consumer caution may temper growth in spending into 2011.”