Retail sales are down in October by a similar level to August and September, although retailers expect some very modest growth next month, according to figures from the CBI. The suervey of 134 retailers, wholesalers and motor traders found 24% saw sales rise on a year ago, while 36% saw them fall, leaving a balance of -11%. This is broadly similar to last month (-15%). The strongest performance was among the grocery and furniture & carpets sectors, who saw volumes increase on one year ago by +11% and +34% respectively. In contrast, there were major falls in footware & leather (-98%), hardware & DIY (-75%) and clothing (-39%). The companies questioned in the Monthly Distributive Trades Survey expected an increase of +4% next month. Ian McCafferty, CBI chief economic adviser, said: “High street sales remain difficult but the decline has stabilised, and retailers expect there to be some very modest growth next month in the build-up to Christmas. “Family budgets continue to be stretched because of a combination of high inflation, low wage growth and soaring unemployment, so consumer confidence is severely dented. “High-street retailers are heavily discounting as they aim to provide the best possible value on basics, but consumers will continue on the back foot as real incomes remain squeezed. “However, price pressures will likely ease next year as the impact of the VAT rise on inflation falls away.”