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Food price surge lifts retail sales in October

Retail sales growth picked up last month thanks to sharp increases in food prices, but consumer caution continues to hamper the high street, it has been revealed.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said like-for-like sales rose 0.8% by value in October - up from 0.5% in September.

However, the increase was largely driven by higher food price inflation, and non-food sales failed to make headway over the month.

Clothing sales fell for the first time in almost a year, with shoppers wary of committing to large purchases, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

This lack of consumer confidence also hit sales of "big ticket" items, while even fast-growing mail order and internet sales growth pulled back after a strong September, up 12.8% last month.

The BRC said there was some optimism for Christmas as sales began to improve during the second half of October.

Helen Dickinson, head of retail for KPMG, said that most retailers are not expecting a record-breaking Christmas.

A separate report from Deloitte predicted Britons would not cut back on their spending at Christmas, forecasting a 1% rise in the value of retail sales to £37bn.