British retail sales crept up in late January and early February, although this was still the best performance since April 2019, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The Confederation of British Industry's monthly retail sales gauge rose to +1 in February from zero in January. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of +4.
The survey also showed retailers were planning to raise investment in the year ahead for the first time in two years.
'Stirring In The Undergrowth'
Although investment from retailers accounts for only a small share of overall business investment, this chimed with comments from Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane on Monday, who said he saw signs of "stirring in the undergrowth" in terms of companies' capital spending plans.
"The prospects for a recovery in investment in the retail sector are on the up. This is particularly the case among large retailers, driven by shifts online and the trend for re-purposing retail space," CBI economist Ben Jones said.
"But the first months of 2020 haven't brought a tangible change in fortunes on the high street. Conditions remain tough, especially for smaller retailers, and that won’t be changing anytime soon."