UK retail sales rose in August, according to new figures released today (7 September), with demand for clothing and footwear helped by new autumn/winter ranges and back-to-school shopping.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said retail sales values were up 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from August 2009. Last year, August sales fell by 0.1%. On a total basis, sales were up 2.8% against a 2.2% increase in August 2009.

Non-food non-store sales (Internet, mail-order and phone sales) picked up in August and were 17.8% higher than a year ago, but this was against an exceptionally weak 8% gain in August 2009, the BRC added.

"The headline number of 2.8% total year-on-year growth looks compelling but it comes off the back of incredibly weak numbers last year," commented Neil Saunders, consulting director at research group Verdict.

He added: "It is also driven, in large part, by higher inflation in food. That means the underlying picture, especially in non-food, is pretty lacklustre.

"The main concern now, for both retailers and consumers alike, is that negative headwinds such as tax rises, cuts in the public sector and higher unemployment, will damage both confidence and household budgets. That could make a relatively weak retail performance weaker still."