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British spending doubles expectations

In March, 32 per cent of UK retailers reported sales had increased over the last year, more than doubling market predictions of only a 15 per cent rise across the sector, according to research.The latest Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Distributive Trades Survey reported the highest increases in sales since December 2004.The survey showed good performance in all departments, with those linked to the housing market excelling the rest. Fifty-three per cent of hardware and DIY retailers announced increased sales from this time last year. The over-performing home improvement market figures reflect the continued confidence in the housing sector, which reported that new mortgage lending rose by £10.3 billion last month, again surpassing predictions of just a £9.4 billion increase.John Longworth, chairman of the CBI's survey panel commented: "The overall picture is healthy with retailers feeling upbeat, especially with Easter sales around the corner."Retailers now predict that sales growth will slow slightly in April, with overall estimates predicting only a 21 per cent increase. But experts have been wrong before.

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