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Retail sector shows signs of recovery

The latest official retail sales statistics revealed a partial rebound in sales volumes during August while more recent survey evidence highlights ‘elements of optimism’ within the retail sector.

According to ONS data published last month, total retail sales volumes rose by 0.4% in August. This growth in the quantity of goods bought by consumers follows July’s 1.1% fall when sales were impacted by an unseasonal spell of wet weather which upset normal summer spending patterns.

ONS noted that August’s partial recovery was driven by increased food sales and a strong month for clothing.

Recently-released survey data from GfK also shows consumers remain remarkably resilient with sentiment at its highest level since the start of 2022 as households become increasingly hopeful about the economy. The latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey also suggests the retail sector expects to see modest sales improvements in the coming months with one gauge of retailers’ expectations hitting a three-month high.

Commenting on the findings, CBI Principal Economist Martin Sartorius said, “There are some elements of optimism in our survey. Lower than expected inflation figures, which in turn will ease pressure on household budgets, will also give retailers some hope going into the crucial autumn and winter trading period.”

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