UK retail sales grew in August at the fastest pace since December 2014, according to the latest survey from the Confederation of British Industry, while orders growth hit a survey record high.
The CBI’s measure of the volume of sales rose to +60 from +23 in July, versus expectations for a drop to +20.
The survey found that average selling prices in August increased at the fastest pace since November 2017, with respondents expecting this picture to remain broadly similar in the month ahead.
The CBI said stock levels in relation to expected sales hit a record low across retail and the distribution sector as a whole. This marked the fifth consecutive month in which a record low has been reached in distribution sector stock levels.
CBI lead economist Alpesh Paleja said: “A ramping-up in retail sales growth in the year to August shows just how much consumer demand continues to spur economic recovery. While sales growth is set to remain strong, a more definitive shift in household spending towards consumer services is anticipated later in the year – leading to greater normalisation of growth in the retail sector.
“Furthermore, there are signs of operational challenges still biting, with stock levels reaching another record low and import penetration falling. Disruption is being exacerbated by continued labour shortages, with many retailers reliant on younger employees currently awaiting their jab.
“Thankfully, changes to the self-isolation rules have eased the impact of the pingdemic on firms. But ensuring continued progress on vaccine roll-out for younger cohorts is crucial. This will also boost confidence as we move onto a new stage in the pandemic, namely living with the virus.”