UK retail sales rose unexpectedly in September - prompting the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to suggest that conditions are beginning to stabilise.

According to CBI's monthly Distributive Trades Survey, a small majority (3%) of retailers said year-on-year sales volumes rose in September, following four consecutive months of falling sales.

Shoe shops continue to enjoy strong year-on-year growth, the CBI said, while the pace of decline is easing for clothing stores.

Looking forward to October, retailers expect sales will remain broadly flat compared with a year ago.

"After such a difficult summer, it is encouraging to see signs that conditions in the retail sector are stabilising," said Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and chief operating officer of supermarket group Asda.

"However, with unemployment rising, wage growth low, and consumers building up their savings, spending is likely to remain subdued for some time."

He said some shoppers may bring forward spending in the months running up to Christmas to beat the planned VAT rise.

And he advised that "after months of heavy de-stocking, retailers may now be starting to think about getting new products on the shelves."