The balance of retailers reporting sales ahead in September was 12%, according to the CBI's distributive trades survey.
37% of retailers reported that sales were upon a year ago against 25% who said sales were down. The resulting 12% was against expectations of +10% and an August figure of +17.
Within the various areas, furniture & carpets, hardware and diy were strong.
Clothing was reported as soft; and consumer durables and books and stationery poor, the latter reporting the worst figures since the survey began.