Retailers managed to scrape an uplift in sales in the first half of this month after shoppers returned to the high streets after the lull in August during the Olympics.
A third of chains reported sales volumes were higher, while 27 per cent said they had fallen, to give a positive net balance of 6 per cent, the CBI'S Distributive Trades Survey said. Retailers are more optimistic about the next month and 15 per cent expect faster growth.
Judith McKenna, Asda's chief operating officer, said the figures were "encouraging". But she added: "On-going economic fragility, reflecting international uncertainty, could affect household spending later in the year."