British retail sales grew strongly in the year to August 2014, and are expected to increase next month, according to the CBI’s latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey.

The survey, conducted between 24 July and 13 August, showed that sales were broadly average for the time of year with retailers more optimistic about their business situation for the next quarter than at any time since May 2002.

During the period, sales volumes rose particularly strongly among grocers, chemists and furniture & carpet retailers, while specialist food & drink retailers recorded a fall in sales volumes.

Orders placed with suppliers also increased, which had been anticipated by firms, and numbers employed grew in line with expectations, at the fastest pace since November 2013.

Online sales volumes also picked up in the year to August, and is expected to strengthen further next month.

CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said: "The high streets have been bustling with shoppers this summer and it is good to see firms so optimistic about their business prospects for the next three months – higher than at any time since 2002.

"Retailers looking forward to stronger growth in September are keeping their shelves well-stocked in anticipation," Hall added.

Many subsectors reported increased sales: grocers (+60%), chemists (+66%) and furniture & carpets (+63%). On the other hand, specialist food and drink saw sales fall on a year ago (-34%).