The surprising resilience of consumers in the downturn shone through in July, as shops reported one of their best months in a year.

Pub-goers were also more willing to sink pints in the second quarter, with a reported slowing decline in beer sales in pubs.

Retailers said sales were still muted this month, according to a CBI survey that offers a first snapshot of business on the high street in midsummer. Sales volumes fell for 47% of stores compared with a year earlier, while 32% said they had risen – a balance of minus 15%.

But this was a small improvement on June’s figure, which stood at minus 17. Excluding data for April that were distorted by the timing of the Easter weekend, July saw sales fall among the smallest proportion of retailers since June last year. This comes in spite of the highest unemployment for 13 years.

Financial Times