UK retail sales fell 0.4% between August and September as hard-pressed consumers cut back on purchases of household goods, clothing and footwear, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Shops selling predominantly food recorded a 1.1% drop in sales last month while those offering mainly non-food items saw a 0.6% rise. In the three months to September, sales at outlets selling mainly food stood 0.1% below their level for the same period in 2007, the first time year-on-year sales at stores selling mostly food have fallen since 1986.

However, economists said overall sales growth was still stronger than expected and noted the data for much of this year had been inconsistent with surveys from the British Retail Consortium, the Confederation of British Industry and the Bank of England’s own Agents’ survey, which on Wednesday recorded a sharp drop in retail expenditure in September.

Financial Times