According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, retail sales rose 1.3% last month, against a 3.9% increase in September 2015, which had been the best month of 2015, excluding Easter distortions.

On a three-month basis, Total UK retail sales rose 1% – marginally ahead of the 12-month average of 0.9%. This is the slowest 12-month average on records since the inception of the monitor in 1995.

Non-food sales rose 0.5%, dragging down the 12-month average to 1.3%. The fashion categories were affected by the warmer weather while the back-to-school and big-ticket items reported solid growth.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, BRC: “Yesterday’s figures show a return to sales growth, primarily driven by stronger food sales which saw their highest increase since November 2013. On the flipside, sales growth of non-food items remained sluggish. Despite a flurry of back-to-school purchases, clothing sales in particular had a more challenging month.

“September saw the consumer confidence index restored to levels seen before the EU referendum in June, which did translate into a willingness to spend on bigger-ticket items. However, the monthly outturn continues to highlight ongoing volatility in retail spending and to reflect longer-term economic headwinds as retailers begin to seek to mitigate the impact of higher import costs due to the fall in the value of the pound.

“Against the current backdrop of intense competition and transformational change in the industry, it’s crucial that retailers are able to continue their excellent track record of keeping prices low for their customers and offering great choice and value. With that in mind the BRC will be ensuring that in the forthcoming Brexit talks, Government negotiators have their sights set firmly lowering import costs as well as avoiding any increase in tariff costs as the UK leaves the EU.”