UK retail sales rose 0.8% on a like-for-like basis from October 2009, thanks to growth in food sales, according to the latest figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Housewares remained "tough and often deal-driven", said the report, as uncertainty over job cuts and income prospects continued to make consumers cautious, giving priority to essentials over discretionary items.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "Growth in food sales, partly created by inflationary pressure from rising commodity prices, has produced a modest increase in overall sales. But any gains made in food continue to be counterbalanced by the non-food sector, where it's a struggle to convince wary consumers to part with their money. When you factor in inflation, the modest rise in total non-food sales is actually a real-terms decrease."
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson added: "Like-for-like non-food sales were broadly flat overall in the month but with a decline in the category which includes DIY and electricals. Most retailers are not expecting a record-breaking Christmas this year but will be hoping that demand picks up a bit over the coming weeks and are quietly hopeful that this may be the case given that the second half of October was stronger than the first. A level of clarity following the Spending Review combined with the growing Halloween spend contributed to this."
Non-food non-store sales (internet, mail-order and phone sales) slowed in October after a good September, rising 12.8% against a strong October 2009.