Over half of retail industry leaders polled for a survey felt positive about the outlook for the sector over the next 12 months while 80% believe Christmas trading prospects look good.

Some 150 retail chiefs responded to the survey, which was carried out at the Barclays Retail Industry Forum in London. Only 7.5% were pessimistic about the forthcoming year while just 1% predicted seasonal blues.

Among those speaking at the Forum were Majestic Wine chief executive Tim How and BHS/Arcadia boss Philip Green, who has been tied to a possible bid for Safeway.

Paul Clarke, national retail director of Barclays, said the survey was a snapshot of the mood of the nation's retail chiefs as the crucial Christmas period approaches.
"It reflects the relatively robust retail sales figures
over the summer months," he said.

More worryingly, however, is the fact that only 43% were aware of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which comes into force in 2005.

One in five felt this would have a major impact on the retail and wholesale sectors.