The Confederation of British Industry´s (CBI) total retail sales balance for the month of October has come in at a net +30%, versus last month´s reading of just +6%.
That was far better than the consensus estimate for a reading of +8% and means that a notably larger proportion of companies in the sector saw sales volumes increase versus the previous month.
The above was also the highest reading since June (+42%). Furthermore, retailers expect growth in sales volumes to be similarly robust in the year to November (+27% from +15% in September).
Nevertheless, and despite a second consecutive month of sales growth, high-street retailers still consider the volume of sales to be below average for this time of year (-7%). Having said that, sales were below seasonal norms to the least extent since April (0%).
Weak durable household goods sales
As might have been expected, there was solid growth in a number of individual retail sectors. Clothing and furniture & carpets reported the greatest year-on-year increases in sales (+57% and +58% respectively), with the clothing sector posting the first sales growth since July (+56%).
Grocers also reported a rise in year-on-year sales volumes for the sixth month running (+33%), and the footwear & leather sector remained strong, with sales increasing (+39%) for the seventh consecutive month.
Sales of durable household goods on the other hand were weak, some analysts are pointing out.
Lastly, wholesalers saw a slight fall in sales volumes on a year ago (-6%), while the motor trades sector saw the first year-on-year rise in sales volumes(+4%) since March, although sales are expected to fall once again next month (-19%).
Commenting on the data, Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Analysis, said: "It is great news that last month's sales growth has continued into October, at a much faster pace than expected, and that this momentum is expected to continue next month too.
"Falling inflation has somewhat eased pressures on family budgets, so that households are a little more willing to spend. But there's still a risk that on-going uncertainty over the global economic outlook could dent consumer confidence, hitting prospects for the retail sector, while the scope for inflation to fall further is limited."
For Blerina Uruci, at Barclays Research: "Despite the leap in the CBI survey, we do not expect a sharp increase in official retail sales data in the coming months. The CBI balance has been indicating weaker sales growth than the ONS data and today's improvement could reflect some catching up.
"In addition, we think that the outlook for the retail sector is for a measured recovery rather than a rapid improvement. Although the pressure on households earnings has been relieved somewhat, both consumer confidence and household income growth are likely to remain well below historical averages in the near term."