Year-on-year retail sales were higher in November for the fifth consecutive month according to the CBI’s Distributive Trades survey.

Some 55% of retailers polled said that the volume of sales rose in the two weeks to November 10, compared to 13% who said sales fell, giving a positive balance of 43%. The figure was a marked improvement of October’s balance of +36%.

Grocers and clothing retailers saw the strongest sales growth. The quarterly average moved up to a +43% balance.

Looking ahead to the crucial pre-Christmas period, a positive balance of 45% of retailers predict strong sales volume growth to continue in December and 11% expect the overall business situation to improve over the next three months.

CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty said: “High street sales growth held up well in November, and retailers are hopeful that the run-up to Christmas will be just as strong.

“However, looking into the New Year, retail sales growth may lose some of its sparkle, as consumers rein in spending after Christmas. Confidence remains fragile, VAT is rising in January, and a combination of weak wage growth and high inflation is eating into household incomes.”