According to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, UK retail sales rose 2.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to September 2008.
Non-food non-store sales – via internet, mail-order and phone sales – saw an even bigger rise, growing 11.9 per cent compared with September 2008. Compared to August, non-food non-store sales rose 7.9 per cent.
"For some customers confidence is trickling back,” said BRC director general Stephen Robertson. “These are the best total sales growth figures since January 2008. But we mustn't get carried away. They are compared with a weak performance last September. "
Robertson added: "As we enter the important run-up to Christmas, these results give some room for optimism. But consumer sentiment is volatile and could weaken again and, throughout the final quarter, all the comparisons will be with poor figures last year when total sales growth dropped below zero."
KPMG's head of retail Helen Dickinson said: "The results for September and the rest of 2009 need to be considered in the light of last year's performance, which weakened as the year progressed. However, the pick-up in this month's figures is stronger than expected.
"Sunny autumn weather and signs of a less gloomy economic outlook have boosted non-food sales, particularly in children's clothing and footwear, and furniture and flooring. But the results are certainly not a clear sign of underlying strength in consumer spending, given the ongoing volatility in performance – by sector, by retailer and by week for individual retailers. Growth in the value of food sales is continuing to slow as food inflation eases."