Better times seem to be just around the corner after a raft of economic surveys delivered positive news.
According to the latest research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the UK is close to leaving the recession.
Good progress is said to have been made both in the manufacturing and service sectors, with most key indicators improving in the last three months.
Businesses said domestic orders and sales had strengthened significantly, particularly in manufacturing, while confidence was found to have strengthened across the board.
Meanwhile, house prices have reached their highest level since the onset of the credit crunch and could climb higher still, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The number of surveyors reporting rises rather than a fall in prices reached a positive reading of 22 per cent in September, the highest result since May 2007.
Despite optimism in August that sellers were starting to return to the market, this has proven premature. It is this lack of supply of new houses, however, that is causing the rise in prices.
Meanwhile, the number of transactions completed has continued to improve with sales per surveyor rising to 18 over the past three months.
Finally, optimism on the high street is growing after annual UK retail sales rose 2.8% on a like-for-like basis in September.
The latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also revealed total sales rose 4.9% against a 1% gain a year earlier, the best figure reported since January 2008.
"For some customers confidence is trickling back," said Stephen Robertson, director general at the British Retail Consortium. "As we enter the important run-up to Christmas, these results give some room for optimism."
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