Supermarkets are alone in riding out the gloom enveloping UK retailers, according to a new poll by the CBI.

The body’s latest distributive trades survey found that supermarkets represented the only sector to show increased sales volumes over the last month, with 27% more of those companies polled seeing orders decrease over the period than increase.

Nearly half of retailers polled said business had dipped in September, while just over 20% reported a rise in trade.

In contrast, among supermarkets a balance of 37% showed an increase in sales for the month – up from 7% in August.

Asda retail director Andy Clarke, who chairs the CBI’s distributive trades panel, said other retailers needed to adopt the “drive for value” shown by the major supermarkets, stressing that “price is king” as competition hots up in the downturn.

“Businesses need to take a hard look in the mirror and focus on costs,” he said, “even simple things like road miles and delivery frequency.”