By Marcus Leach
UK retail sales values were 0.3% higher on a like-for-like basis from September 2010, when sales had risen 0.5%, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
On a total basis, sales were up 2.5%, against a 2.2% increase in September 2010.
Food sales growth was similar to that in July and August. Non-food sales improved a little but remained challenging. Homewares showed a modest uplift, though sales were still often deal-driven.
Larger purchases in particular were hit by fragile consumer confidence and the weak housing market. Clothing sales dropped off sharply in the end-of-month heatwave.
Non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone) sales growth fell back after picking up in August. Sales were 10.1% up on a year ago, down from 12.6% in August and well below the 19.1% in September 2010.
"In these harsh times, we have to be thankful for this minor improvement in growth compared with August but underlying conditions remain weak," Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said.
"Spending growth is below inflation meaning customers are buying less than this time last year. And there's no guarantee next month's figure will be better. Total sales growth has been flipping between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent for four months now and year-to-date like-for-like growth is zero.
"Short-lived factors such as the weather and discounting are influencing sales not any fundamental change in how customers are feeling. Hot weather at the end of September boosted spending on food and drink, but clothing sales slumped as the sun undermined interest in winter ranges.
"As we head into the year's most important trading period, we need a return of optimism. That requires people to feel that next year they will see some payback for the current pain."
Join us on