The Confederation of British Industries has given an optimistic outlook for retail sales in May, despite growth slowing slightly in the year to April.
Its survey of f 122 firms showed that orders fell in the year to April but they are predicted to rise strongly next month – with expectations highest since May 2014.
The grocery sector was least optimistic, with none of the businesses surveyed reporting sales had risen in April.
Footwear & leather and non-specialised stores also reported lower sales volumes.
In contrast, clothing, furniture & carpets, other normal goods and chemists all reported solid sales growth. The rise in internet sales exceeded expectations in the year to April, and strong growth looks set to continue in May.
Barry Williams, CBI DTS chairman and Asda’s CEO, said: “With the mixed news we’ve been seeing from the high street recently it’s perhaps not surprising that retailers have reported varied fortunes this month.
“A healthier picture in furnishing and DIY sectors – driven by the desire by customers to spruce up their homes – contrasts with a fall in sales at shoe shops, grocers and department stores.
“With shopping habits changing so dramatically in the last few years underlying consumer confidence is hard to read, but both retailers and wholesalers are optimistic there will be a spring in their customers’ steps, and therefore their sales, in the near future.”