The pace of growth in retail sales volumes continued to be slow in first half of January 2013 says The Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

According to the CBI’s Distributive Trades Survey, 41% of the retailers reported a sales increase while 24% reported a decline.

The 17% net increase was higher than the estimated 10%, however, remained lower than the figures of December 2012.

CBI Distributive Trades Panel chairman and Asda Chief Operating Officer Judith McKenna remarked that the sales volumes remained higher despite the challenging business environment.

Sales volume of grocery stores continued its positive streak for the ninth consecutive month, following a 41% increase in January and helped assuage some of the losses in other sectors.

"Despite mixed news from the high street over the last few weeks, strong sales growth in the grocery sector has added a touch of sparkle to overall retail sales," added McKenna.

Specialist food and drink sales, meanwhile, reported a year-on-year sales decrease of 32% with motor traders also posting an 11% decline.

Volumes are expected to drop further in February 2013 continuing the slower pace of growth.

"With tough trading conditions and subdued consumer spending adding to the uncertain economic picture, retailers will continue to face tough market conditions in the coming months," cautioned McKenna.