Retail sales edged up modestly in October, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The Office of National Statistics’ Retail Sales Index revealed sales, excluding fuel, were up 2.7% in value year-on-year and 0.5% on the previous month.Volume of sales, omitting fuel, also rose 1.2% on October 2009 and 0.3% on September this year.

Year-on-year food stores were up 1.9% in value and non-food was up 2.6%. Clothing and footwear saw the largest growth with a 5% increase compared to last year.

Despite figures being up the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said growth was weak especially when increased VAT and inflation is taken into account and trading remains tough.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Food sales growth, propped up by inflationary pressure from rising commodity prices, is the driving force behind this modest increase in overall sales. Shaky consumer confidence continues to discourage spending, particularly on non-essential items.

“Retailers are being squeezed as they use heavy discounting and promotions to tempt wary shoppers into spending their limited spare cash. This meagre growth is likely to continue in the run-up to Christmas.”

Online sales continued to flourish with a 11.4% rise in value year-on-year.