Retailers are being forced to cut prices to bring in custom as sales continue to disappoint, according to figures published by the UK Office for National Statistics.

Figures showed a modest recovery in retail sales during the three months to October over last year, with sales volume up 1.1 per cent from last year and up 0.7 per cent from the previous three-month period.

The value of sales, however, rose by just 0.2 per cent from a year ago - the lowest increase since comparable records started back in 1946.

The results will sound a sour note with retailers, who are already expecting to start sales periods early if the upcoming Christmas period offers no respite.

On a monthly basis, total sales rose 0.2 per cent between September October, following growth of 0.6 per cent in September and 0.2 per cent in August.

There was positive growth in all sectors except for clothing stores, which suffered a drop of 0.3 per cent, and non-store retailing, which recorded flat sales.

Unusually warm weather has combined with difficult market conditions to prevent retailers from bringing in revenue, with rails of coats and scarves left largely untouched in many stores.