The BRC and KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed that total sales for the month were up 5.2 per cent and like-for-like growth over the past three months remained the same as in August, at 2.7 per cent.
Food sales increased strongly, but clothing and footwear suffered their worst month since June.
BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins said the numbers were 'slightly better' than expected, but the like-for-like figure for October would give a better indication of consumer confidence.
The BRC said that 'unseasonally mild weather' was to blame for shoppers showing little interest in new autumn and winter ranges of clothing and footwear.
The electronics sector fared a little better with sales 'marginally better than August', driven principally by large-screen LCD TVs.
Department stores had a 'tough' month, while increases in homewares slowed after a strong August.