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Sales will climb further, say optimistic retailers

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Retail sales grew strongly in the 12 months to April, and they are expected to grow at an even faster pace next month.

The data, from the CBI’s monthly Distributive Trades Survey, shows that sales growth in April improved from March, which sales now having increased year-on-year for the fifth consecutive month.

Sales volumes are expected to rise again next month, with expectations for growth at their strongest since December 2010.

“Despite the slightly more mixed March data, retail sales bode well for another strong quarter of GDP growth in Q1,” says Christian Schultz, an economist at Berenberg Bank. “Average monthly volumes were up 1pc over Q1, supporting our Q1 GDP growth forecast of 0.9pc.

“With more people in jobs, wage growth returning and inflation coming down, the squeeze on real incomes has ended. Households need to dip less into their savings to spend, making the upturn more sustainable.”

Among the retail sectors, grocers, footwear and leather and hardware and DIY recorded particularly strong annual sales growth, all seeing a pick-up from March. Internet retail sales also continued to perform strongly, with the volume of sales rising at the highest annual rate since November 2012.

“The high street has a spring in its step – retailers performed well in April and enjoyed a strong rise in sales compared with this time last year. It’s a welcome rebound from March, largely down to the later timing of Mother’s Day and Easter,” adds Barry Williams, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel and Asda SVP and Chief Merchandising Officer for Food.

“This latest survey echoes the current drumbeat of positive economic news. The trick now is for this to become a consistent theme, and deliver much needed support to household spending and economic growth in the months ahead.”

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