Richard Lim, British Retail Consortium economist, said: “The official data [from the Office of National Statistics] confirms our findings that October’s retail sales growth was stronger than September’s.
“Most non-food sectors, such as clothing and footwear, are well up on a year ago – when customers were dealing with the impact of the credit crunch and impending recession and concentrating on essentials.
“During the recession food has consistently been one of the best performing sectors. But as food inflation has begun to tumble food sales growth has slipped.
“A year ago customers were extremely nervous about spending. Now consumer confidence is rising and there’s a sense that there is some spending out there to be fought over. Shops have already begun to discount and promote in earnest as they fight it out to win what custom there is to be had.
“Retailers will be hoping the improved consumer confidence and housing market stability will be sustained into Christmas and beyond. But 2010 has many uncertainties, including on jobs, taxes and government spending. They could well undermine the extra willingness to shop we’ve seen from customers recently.”