UK retail sales jumped 2.2% in September against last year, growing faster than expected and supporting hopes the economy recorded a strong third quarter.
Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) recorded a 0.6% increase against August.
Economists had expected a retail sales rise of 0.4% on the month and 2.1% on the year.
Retail volumes jumped 1.5% quarter on quarter, showing the largest rise since the pre-recession peak in March 2008.
In addition, the retail sector recorded three month-on-three-month increasing growth rates for seven consecutive months. The ONS said it showed “an underlying trend of growth in the retail industry”.
September retail sales were driven by a 3.6% jump across non-food retailers and a 19.1% surge across non-store retailers. Food stores recorded a 0.6% fall in retail volumes.
The amount spent in the retail sector in September increased 3.2% year-on-year and 0.5% against August. Non-seasonally adjusted data showed the average weekly spend in September was £6.8bn.
The ONS said store price inflation continued to slow in September with average prices increasing 0.9% year-on-year and up 1.6% on August.
Average weekly online spend in September was £615m, a 19.1% against September last year. The amount spent online accounted for 10.2% of all retail spend.
Barclays head of retail Richard Lowe said: “September’s figures bring to a close a summer of good results and good levels of growth in the sector. Looking ahead, the high street is already filling up with glittering displays to tempt shoppers in the lead up to what we expect to be a strong Christmas”.
Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking Retail Sector Lead Keith Richardson added: “Improving sales in September chart returning confidence amongst consumers and a renewed willingness to spend.
“After a more challenging August, these figures provide a boost ahead of the vital festive period, which most retailers expect to be the strongest in terms of sales since before the start of the financial crisis.”
Deloitte UK head of retail Ian Geddes said: “Whilst consumer confidence is undoubtedly rising as the wider economic data continues to improve, wage growth remains stubbornly low. Therefore, many consumers are yet to benefit from having more money in their pockets. This will limit consumer spending power as we approach the seasonal ‘golden quarter’.”