60% of retailers report sales increase, with furniture and carpets seeing solid growth.
The increase in high street sales in September surpassed expectations and represents the third consecutive year-on-year increase, with retailers confident of another strong rise in sales in October.
60% of retailers surveyed in the CBI's Distributive Trades Survey, said that the volume of sales rose during September, while 11% said that sales fell. The balance of 49% was the highest balance since May 2004 and compares with an expected figure of 39% last month.
Sales volumes were also above average for the time of year for the first time since 2007. The clothing and footwear sectors saw particularly strong sales growth, while solid sales growth was also recorded in the furniture and carpets sector.
Looking to October, a balance of 47% of firms expect a higher volume of sales than a year ago.
CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty said: "High street sales have performed well again this month, with growth better than retailers predicted. ...Clothing and footwear sales in particular look to have been boosted by the launch of new autumn ranges."
He added: "Retailers expect sales growth to continue next month and, as we get closer to January, sales will be helped by households seeking to beat the VAT rise. However, weak prospects for take-home pay mean that consumer spending is likely to be fairly restrained in 2011."