High street sales rose sharply at the beginning of October, according to data released yesterday.
According to The Times, CBI figures show approximately 41% of retailers said the volume of goods sold between September 29 and October 14 was higher than the same period last year, while 33% reported a fall.
Retailers are also optimistic about performance over the coming months, with those expecting volumes to increase rising to 19%, the highest level since July 2007.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, says: "Given that consumer spending accounts for 65% of GDP, the figures boost hopes that the economy will finally return to growth in the fourth quarter."
However, he highlighted that while spending on retail goods has been relatively resilient, the real weakness was spending on consumer services, which is not measured in the CBI survey.
The data comes days after official figures showed the economy shrank for the sixth consecutive quarter between July and September, dragging the country into the longest recession on record.
Some analysts have expressed concerns the figures are flattered by a comparison with sales a year ago.
Vicky Redwood, UK economist at Capital Economics, says: "The high sales balance is probably more a reflection of previous weakness than current strength of sales."
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