U.K. retail sale volumes rose to a six-month high in August, fuelling optimism over the health of the country’s economy, industry data showed on Thursday.

In a report, the Confederation of British Industry said the result of its index of U.K. retailers improved by 16.0 points to a reading of 37.0 this month from 21.0 in July. Analysts had expected the index to increase by 6.0 points to 27.0 in August.

On the index, a reading above 0.0 indicates higher sales volume, below indicates lower.

The survey of 142 firms also showed that sales were broadly average for the time of year with retailers more optimistic about their business situation for the next quarter than at any time since May 2002.

Sales volumes rose particularly strongly among grocers, chemists and furniture & carpet retailers, but specialist food & drink retailers recorded a fall in sales volumes.

Growth in internet sales volumes also picked up in the year to August, and is expected to strengthen further next month.

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said, “Retailers looking forward to stronger growth in September are keeping their shelves well-stocked in anticipation.”

Following the release of that data, the pound was modestly higher against the U.S. dollar, with GBP/USD easing up 0.02% to trade at 1.6579.

Meanwhile, European stock markets were lower. London’s FTSE 100 shed 0.35%, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 declined 0.85%, France’s CAC 40 slumped 0.7%, while Germany's DAX dropped 1.2%.






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