DIY sector lagging behind
Listed retail companies are delivering their best performances since the third quarter of 2004, according to Grant Thornton's Quoted Retail Companies Index.

The quarterly review of retailers quoted on the London Stock Exchange revealed that 44 per cent issued positive statements, 44 per cent neutral and 16 per cent negative. In the same quarter last year, 29 per cent were positive, 51 per cent neutral and 20 per cent negative.

In the second quarter, 72 per cent of retailers said total sales were up and 56 per cent reported like-for-likes up. Like-for-like increases were 4.2 per cent on average.

However, Grant Thornton said the recovery was not uniform across all sectors - the DIY sector and some fashion retailers continue to struggle.

Grant Thornton head of retail David Bush said: 'Our experience suggests retailers are learning to cope with the more challenging retail environment and have adapted their sales and promotion strategies. There is less evidence of retailers hacking margins to shift stock and, although this may be a fragile recovery, the early signs point to rosier times ahead for the UK retail sector.'

Bush added that the 'pegging' of interest rates during the past year and the lift in house prices in some areas had also 'paved the way towards the more upbeat performance of quoted retailers over the past quarter'.