Retailers are feeling their most optimistic about sales prospects in more than a decade, according to a CBI survey.
The latest monthly distributive trades report found more shop owners thought sales would rise over the next three months than fall, giving a balance of plus 25, the highest figure since May 2002.
The survey also found that sales growth this month rose at the fastest pace in six months, with a balance of plus 37.
Supermarkets, chemists and carpet and furniture stores experienced the strongest growth, with specialist food and drink stores seeing the steepest fall.
A balance of plus 10 of retailers placed more orders with their suppliers than a year ago, although this was just below expectations of plus 13.
But employment grew in the sector over the year at plus 12, the fastest rate since November 2013.
CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said: “The high streets have been bustling this summer and it is good to see firms so optimistic about their business prospects for the next three months. Retailers looking forward to stronger growth in September are keeping their shelves well-stocked.”
The economy has been growing this year, driven by consumer spending and rising house prices. But economists are concerned because official figures show average wages excluding bonuses rose by 0.6pc in the year to June, the slowest rise since records began in 2001.