Conducted between 27 November and 11 December, CBI‘s latest Distributive Trades Survey of 106 firms, grocers, department stores and clothing shops, has reported a strong rebound of sales in December which experienced a fall in the year to November.

Retailers expect that the robust sales growth will continue in the year to January.

CBI’s chair Barry William said, "After a disappointing couple of months, sales volumes in December recovered their sparkle, beating retailers’ expectations.

"Retailers are now gearing up for the crucial pre-Christmas week and are optimistic for the New Year," said William.

Many sub-sectors saw a strong sales performance: grocers (+40%), non-specialised stores, including department stores (+36%) and clothing (+33%), all rebounded from negative balances in November (-20%, -28% and -15% respectively).

Over 37% of motor traders reported that sales were up on a year ago, while 37% said they were down, giving a balance of 0%. This was significantly better than expectations (-40%) and followed a fall in the previous month (-26%).

Over 36% placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 10% placed fewer orders, giving a rounded balance of +25%.

The sales of building materials (+48%), clothing, textiles & footwear (+30%) and durable household goods (+30%) grew, whereas the sale of food and drink (-59%) fell. Agricultural and industrial machinery sales were flat (0%).

The CBI survey had responses from 62 retail chains.