3 October 2001, 12:28  UK CBI says Sept retail sales volumes rose at fastest pace for five years

LONDON (AFX) - UK retail sales volumes in September grew at their fastest rate for five years despite the terrorist attacks on the US, according to the Confederation of British Industry. In its latest quarterly Distributive Trades survey, the CBI said a balance of 54 pct of retailers experienced higher sales than a year ago compared with 49 pct in August. It said 62 pct of retailers reported higher sales in September. Around 70 pct of retailers reported to the survey after the terrorist attacks on the US, the CBI said. The survey said grocers reported the sharpest increase in sales volumes compared with a year earlier, with sharp rises also noted by footwear and leather, specialist food and durable household goods. Chemists and off-licences were among those experiencing more modest growth. Alastair Eperon, chairman of the Distributive Trades Panel said the attacks in the US "may in fact have dented UK consumers' confidence but so far there is little evidence of any effect on their spending." However, he cautioned that retailers remain "anxious that external pressures, brought about by a global slowdown, will have an impact on their trading prospects." "So far consumers seem willing to spend, thereby helping to stave off an economy-wide recession," he said. "But with inflation under control, another cut in interest rates is needed to steer the economy through difficult times." The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee will tomorrow announce its latest monthly interest rate decisions, with most economists predicting a 25 basis point reduction in the key interest rate to 4.5 pct.

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