Retail sales in Britain this September accelerated at their fastest rate in five years, according to the latest report from the Confederation of British Industry.

This welcome if surprising trend is highlighted in the CBI’s latest Distributive Trades Survey. Sixty-two per cent of retailers reported that year-on-year sales had risen during September despite the US terrorist attacks. Sales decline was reported by only 8% of respondents.

The most marked increase was in the grocery sector, with similarly bullish results reported by footwear, specialist food and durable household goods retailers. Car sales also increased in September, nudged upward by the new-style licence plates.

Observed Alastair Eperon, chair of the CBI’s DTS Panel: “The attacks on the United States may have dented UK consumers' confidence but so far there is little evidence of any effect on their spending.”

However, he expressed concern that the global economic downturn could soon cool Britons' shopping ardour and urged the Bank of England to sanction a further cut in interest rates.

“So far consumers seem willing to spend, thereby helping to stave off an economy wide recession. But with inflation under control, another cut in interest rates is needed to steer the economy through difficult times,” Eperon said.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)