Fewer than one in three British retailers managed to grow sales in the early weeks of February, according to business group the CBI.

Its monthly Distributive Trades Survey — which doesn’t try to quantify sales growth or decline but instead asks if sales were up or down — recorded just 30 per cent of retailers in positive year-on-year territory.

That was still better than the 29 per cent reporting declines, with the remainder — 41 per cent — flat against February 2014.

CBI said the survey took place between 29th January and 13th February. There were 138 participants including 62 retailers with the balance made up of wholesalers and motor trades. Only a handful of firms selling furniture are thought to have been included.

Despite retailers reporting mixed sales, wholesalers fared far better with 55 per cent up on last year and only 7 per cent down.