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CBI: carpet and furniture sales on the rise

Sales of furniture and carpets are rising strongly as the impact of Britain's recovering housing market affects the rest of the economy, the CBI has said.

The latest snapshot of retailing from the employers' organisation showed that shops and stores had a better September than anticipated and expect the improved trading environment to continue into October.

The pickup in activity was led by the furniture and carpets sector, where for the first time since 1996 every one of the retailers questioned by the CBI said sales were higher in September than a year earlier.

But the monthly distributive trades survey found that the pickup was broad based, with grocers and retailers selling recreational goods also reporting strong growth in sales volumes.

Overall, 46% of the 111 firms questioned said business was better than in September 2012 while 12% said it was worse. The balance of +34% was the highest since June 2012 and was accompanied by retailers placing more orders with suppliers.

Barry Williams, Asda's chief merchandising officer for food and chairman of the CBI distributive trades survey panel, said: "It's encouraging to see the high street on the road to recovery, with particularly strong growth from furniture and carpet retailers, department stores and recreational goods retailers.

"But the retail sector is not out of the woods yet with consumer confidence still fragile despite the rise in spending."

The CBI reported that 22% of retailers said sales volumes were above average for the time of year, while 10% said they were below average. The balance of +12 points was the highest since December 2010.

David Tinsley, economist at BNP Paribas, said: "The most obvious caveat to reading too much into this survey is that the relatively good result in August was not reflected in the official retail sales data for that month, which fell 1%. Still, the broad momentum of sales appears firm and upwards. And the CBI survey suggests this remains the case."

Richard Lowe, the head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: "Retail sales have grown for the third month running, and these strong figures will no doubt provide a fillip for the high street.

"Retailers will now be hoping for more seasonal weather to help sales of new autumn/winter collections and for consumer confidence to tick up as we head towards the crucial Christmas trading period".

Source : Larry Elliott -

26 September 2013
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