LONDON - Annual growth in British retail sales unexpectedly ground to a halt over the past month, hit by the first big fall in supermarket sales since February, the Confederation of British Industry said on Monday.
The CBI distributive trades survey's retail sales balance slumped to +2 from a 15-month high of +34 struck in September, a much weaker outturn than the +33 forecast by economists, and breaking a three-month run of strong sales growth.
However the CBI said retailers were forecasting a return to solid sales growth next month, and that they had increased orders placed with suppliers.
"Although the high street recovery stalled this month, there is optimism that it was just a blip," said Barry Williams, who chairs the CBI survey panel and is a senior executive at Asda, Wal-Mart's British supermarket chain.
"It's also encouraging to see that signs are pointing towards increased consumer confidence, backed up by continuing growth in certain areas such as furniture and carpets ... (which) all did particularly well in October."
British retail sales volumes grew 2.2 per cent on the year in September, according to official data released earlier this month. The Office for National Statistics releases its October retail sales data on November 14.