Retailers have achieved three consecutive months of sales growth but the performance is unlikely to be sustained in the new year, the CBI reported.

The business organisation’s Distributive Trades Survey, in contrast to ONS figures also released today, said that in the year to December 9 “retailers maintained year-on-year sales growth at November’s levels”. Grocers and household goods retailers led the charge.

Almost half of the survey’s contributors -  45% - said sales had risen over the last year and 32% reported a decline. The resulting balance of +13%, although “slightly lower” than expected, matched November’s figure.

Asda chief operating officer and chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel Andy Clarke said: “Although individual retailers may post healthy looking Christmas numbers compared to the same time last year when we were in the grip of the recession, conditions across the whole of the sector are likely to remain challenging in 2010.

“The recent growth in retail sector sales is expected to fizzle out in the new year.”