Shoppers delay on winter clothes
Retailers received a "reality check" last month as shoppers showed their willingness to wait for colder weather before restocking winter wardrobes.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG said like-for-like sales growth of 0.7% on a year ago made September the weakest month of the year to date and showed that consumers are still cautious despite signs of economic recovery.
Unseasonably warm weather stifled sales of autumn and winter clothing collections, with shoppers happy to leave purchases until later on.
KPMG's head of retail David McCorquodale said: "These figures are a reality check and will make retailers nervous as we enter the run up to Christmas."
Grocery sales showed a weak performance in September, although sales of children's clothing and shoes put in a strong showing due to the tail-end of the traditional back-to-school spending spree.
The BRC added that the slowdown in food and drink sales reflected the tough battleground for market share amongst the grocers and the return of more normal spending patterns following the summer.
Across the retail sector, the BRC said like-for-like sales in the three months between July and September were 1.5% higher than a year earlier.
The BRC survey said that online sales grew by double digits in the month, driven by non-food sales such as electricals and leisure items.
The BRC survey is in line with research released yesterday by BDO, which tracks sales at around 85 non-grocery retailers with annual sales of between £5 million and £500 million.
It reported a sharply reduced sales increase of 0.6% for September as it said many firms chose not to launch heavy discounts in favour of protecting their profits.