Sales strong for first half
UK retailers have enjoyed a good first-half of March, according to the latest CBI Retail Sales Survey.

A positive balance of 32 per cent of retailers said that sales volumes were up compared with March last year. It is the fourth consecutive month to show a positive figure. The three-month average showed a positive balance of 27 per cent, the highest since July 2004, when the figure was 39 per cent.

A further 33 per cent of retailers said that sales were strong for the time of year, compared with 17 per cent saying they were poor. The 16 per cent positive balance is the highest since June 2004.

The sectors reporting good performances included DIY, household goods, grocery and specialist foods, and footwear and leather. Clothing was flat and books and stationery were down.

John Longworth, executive director of Asda and chairman of the CBI's DTS Panel, said: 'Looking past the headline figure, it seems the housing market is the driving force behind much of the spending. There was strong growth in demand for hardware, DIY products and household goods, while furniture and carpets sales are also up on a year ago.'