Retail sales rose in September, with value growth being driven by food inflation, but fashion sales volumes experienced their biggest fall for three-and-a-half years, the ONS said this morning.

Overall the volume of retail sales rose 0.6% compared with September 2010, with the value of sales rising 5.4%.

Food retailers experienced a decline in volumes of 0.3%, but the value of sales continued to grow strongly - up 5.7% - reflecting the ongoing high level of food inflation. The ONS estimates that prices in food stores were 6% higher than in the same month last year.

The ONS highlighted that smaller food stores were growing their sales faster than larger ones, and that 42% of spending went through stores which predominantly sell food.

Fashion volumes experienced their largest fall since April 2008, down 2.1% due to the warm weather at the end of the month, athough sales in the category were up 0.4% in value terms.

In other non-food categories, the picture was mixed. The ONS recorded a massive 13.9% fall in volumes in DIY stores, while music and video stores’ sales fell 3.3%. However it claims furniture and lighting sales volumes were up 4.7% and electrical sales volumes were up 5.5%, which tghe ONS attributed to people buying computers at the end of the school and university holidays.

Deaprtment store sales volumes grew by 4% and values by 4.4%, which the ONS said was driven by promotions.

In the non-store retailing sector, sales rose 15.5% by volume and 15.6% by value.