After two years of cutbacks, shop fitting is finally on the up as confidence returns and retailers invest in their stores.

Just under 80% of shop fitting companies had registered an increase in sales over the last six months, a survey of Shop and Display Equipment Association (SDEA) members has revealed. 

Meanwhile, 63.9% also registered an increase in year on year sales. 

Looking ahead, 50% of companies are confident of increased sales in the next year, while 44.4% are expecting similar sales figures.  

SDEA director Lawrence Cutler said the turnaround was remarkable. "Our survey confirms the renewed energy and confidence now being experienced within the shopfittings and display market," he said. 

Costcutter retailers have been at the forefront of the new investment wave. Retailers ploughed  more money into their stores in the first quarter of the current financial year than in the whole of 2009/10, as Costcutter drove down the cost of refits by 20% and increased sales margins.

In the past four months, £3m of capital expenditure has been agreed, with another £3m reassuringly in the pipeline for the next six months.

Costcutter's head of development Craig Farrington said that store development was a vital component for retailers looking to future-proof their businesses, and compete with the supermarkets. 

"So far this year we have delivered 100 development projects with a strong focus on quality refits," he said. 

"Comparatively, our retailers have already surpassed their investment in store development from last year, suggesting that confidence is returning in the sector."