Retail sales rose in October following a slowdown the previous month, providing retailers with encouragement in the countdown to Christmas.

Total sales rose 2.6% in October, when like-for-likes advanced 0.8%, bringing the three-month average rate of growth to 2.8%, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed.

However, the performance of retail categories was mixed. Clothing suffered a fall in total sales for the first time since March as warm weather had an impact.

And over the three-month period food sales growth averaged 2% - below inflation and signalling volume declines.

BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said: “It’s encouraging to see growth heading in the right direction again. 

“Much of the improvement was driven by sustained demand for new games and gadgets, and there was also a strong showing for home accessories and textiles. 

“Consumer confidence paused in October. While conditions remain challenging, the signs are that customers are managing their budgets well while allowing some leeway for occasional treats.”

Online non-food sales increased by 12.1% in the month and the penetration rate of 18.3% was the highest level recorded by the study.

KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale said: “These figures underline how vitally important online is to the average retailer’s overall performance.

“If we discount online transactions then fashion sales would have been negative this month. 

“In fact online sales accounted for a third of the growth in the non-food sector over the last quarter, underlying their magnitude to both the retailer and the consumer.

“As we approach Christmas I would expect online sales to continue to pick up pace. This will be another bumper Christmas for the online sales channel, be it through click-and-collect or the traditional delivery to a customer’s door.”