Retailers reported a strong year-on-year increase in sales volumes in early December as sales rebounded after a poor performance in the previous two months, according to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

The survey suggests retailers may have performed better at the beginning of the key festive trading period than might have been expected in light of continuing worries over sluggish high street spending and broker downgrades of major retailers.

The survey showed 48% of retail respondents reported that sales were up on a year ago, ahead of expectations, while 14% said they were down.

Some 31% of retailers said they expect sales growth to continue next month, while 2% expect sales to decrease.

The study showed that clothing retailers and department stores reported buoyant trading in early December. It also signalled strong showings in the furniture and carpets and hardware and DIY categories.

Asda chief merchandising officer for food and chair of the distributive chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel Barry Williams said: “After a disappointing couple of months, sales volumes in December recovered their sparkle, beating retailers’ expectations.

“Customers have clearly held off spending through the autumn and we’re only now seeing them start to hit the stores. Retailers are now gearing up for the crucial pre-Christmas week and are optimistic for the New Year.”