UK retailers posted a surprise increase in sales in the first half of April – the first uplift for more than a year – in a further sign that trading conditions are improving on the high street.

The CBI's Distributive Trades Survey revealed that 44% of retailers posted higher sales volumes in the first half of April, compared with the same period last year, while 41% said that sales had fallen.

The net balance of 3% delivering growing sales was the highest figure since January 2008. It also supports data unveiled earlier this month by the department store Debenhams and the chocolatier Thorntons, which both returned to underlying sales growth recently.

The Independent