Retail on the rise?

Things looks promising for the retail sector with a strong rise in sales volumes reported by the Confederation of British Industry.

In the lobbying group’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey, covering the first two weeks of October, 47 per cent of retailers report that sales volumes are up on a year ago and 17 per cent state that sales have fallen.

The resulting balance of +30 per cent well exceeds expectations (+15 per cent), and is the fastest rate of sales growth since June (+42 per cent).

Looking ahead, retailers expect growth in sales volumes to be similarly robust in the year to November (+27 per cent).

It would be fair to say that the sector endured a particularly difficult start to the year, after figures found that the number of retailers going bust jumped 38 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to Q4 2011.

The double-dip recession, with its byproduct of cash-strapped consumers, played out against a backdrop of never-ending Eurozone worries. It was a situation that prompted Mary Portas, of retail turnaround fame, to come out of the woodwork to advise government on how to resurrect the high street.

But since the dark days of Q1, we have come out of recession and the national bonhomie following the Olympics and Paralympics may have given further impotus to a retail recovery.

Additionally, retail is at the forefront of the minds of many thinking of starting their own business. In a survey conducted exclusively for SmallBusiness.co.uk, 21 per cent of entrepreneurial types picked the sector as the one in which they would start up.

On this evidence, the general populace isn’t prepared to let an ailing high street get in the way of their dreams. Let’s hope this optimism is matched by consumers in the run-up to Christmas.

See also: What will the future high street look like?

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