The survey was conducted between 28 August and 11 September 2013, which included 111 firms, comprising 61 retailers, 41 wholesalers and nine motor traders.

The agency noted that this was the third consecutive quarter of growth and was broad-based across a number of sectors.

Around 49% of firms reported rise in sales volumes over a year earlier and 12% reported decline, giving a balance of 34%, which was the strongest since June 2012.

The agency noted that furniture & carpets, department stores, recreational good retailers and grocers have reported strong performance over the period. Furniture & carpets sales also saw the strongest growth since August 1996.

Sales volumes exceeded solid expectations, with growth expected to pick up again in October.

CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel chair Barry Williams said," But the retail sector is not out of the woods yet with consumer confidence still fragile despite the rise in spending."

The survey also reported surge in business volumes of 52% of department stores operators, while 0% said they were down, giving a balance of 52%. Out of the total number of recreational goods retailers, 65% said business volumes were up, while 0% said they were down, giving a balance of 65%.