19 October 2012 10:15
The retail industry benefitted from the colder autumn weather today, as figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed a rise in sales in September.
Shoppers buying warmer clothing and back-to-school attire helped the sector enjoy a better-than-expected bounce-back to sales growth of 0.6% last month, following City predictions of a 0.4% rise and a 0.1% fall in August.
There was some hope for the wider economy's prospects as well after retail sales across the third quarter as a whole grew at the fastest rate since June 2010.
The figures echo surveys from the British Retail Consortium and CBI, which also revealed a bounce-back to growth last month.
Clothing rose 2% on a month-on-month basis, whilst the release of the eagerly anticipated iPhone 5 seems to have provided a boost as sales volumes of computer and telecoms equipment were up 7.6%.
Meanwhile, household goods stores had a strong month, with sales growing 1.1%. However, food stores saw sales drop 0.2% on the month, while department stores saw weaker growth than the wider sector as sales advanced 0.4%.
The amount spent online was estimated to account for 8.8% of all retail spending excluding automotive fuel, while spending online accounts for 63% of total spending, up from 62.9%.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said the retail figures supported hopes for a return to growth in the third quarter. However, he added: "There are still significant pressures facing consumers, which is likely to limit the upside for spending for the time being.
"Consumer price inflation seems likely to rise back up in the near term due to rising utility bills, elevated petrol prices and the threat of higher food prices. Meanwhile, wage growth is only creeping up and is still muted."