UK retail sales growth failed to revive in October, according to the latest figures published today (9 November), with weak consumer confidence continuing to undermine demand.

While the BRC/KPMG retail sales monitor points to a 0.8% rise in like-for-like retail sales, this is attributed to rising commodity prices being passed on to consumers in the form of higher food prices. Clothing and footwear sales slowed, the BRC said, without giving further details.

On a total basis, sales were up 2.4% against a 5.9% increase in October last year.

Non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone sales) sales growth also slowed in October after a good September. Sales were 12.8% higher than a year ago, but against a strong October 2009.

Uncertainty over job cuts and income prospects continue to make consumers careful shoppers, giving priority to essentials and replacements over discretionary items.

"Unfortunately it's more of the same for hard-pressed retailers, with weak consumer confidence continuing to undermine growth," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

"Any gains made in food continue to be counterbalanced by the non-food sector, where it's a struggle to convince wary consumers to part with their money. When you factor in inflation, the modest rise in total non-food sales is actually a real-terms decrease."

Looking ahead, he said that while tough trading conditions are unlikely to change in coming months, "retailers will be hoping those concerns are at least put on hold for Christmas."