Retail sales across the UK defied economic and Brexit concerns in October by recording the strongest monthly growth since January, rising by 1.7% year-on-year according to latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

According to the BRC and KPMG sales monitor, UK retail sales grew on total 2.4% last month above the annual average rate running at 1.1%. 

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “October’s figures paint a more positive picture of retail sales, there was a more balanced contribution from all product categories, nearly all of which saw a degree of sales growth.

“It is clear from today’s figures, that despite the inflationary pressure that’s gradually building in the supply chain, retailers are currently effectively managing the additional cost burdens and continue to entice their customers with great choice and value.”

On a three-month basis food and grocery sales were ahead 1.6% in the period August to October, and adjusted for food price deflation, volumes rose more strongly, up 2.7%.

Nielsen’s head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins, said: “Supermarkets are keeping prices low and inflationary pressure in the supply chain is not yet being passed on, as competition for the wallet of the shopper continues to be intense. Fresh food is a key battle ground for attracting new shoppers and there have further price cuts in recent months. Across the non-food channel it is unseasonably warm weather that is having the biggest impact on sales so retailers are holding prices and making promotions attractive to help encourage visits to store.”

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch added: ”Although there’s been widespread discussion about the possible return of inflation after such a long run of falling prices, the tide has yet to turn; so the fourth consecutive month of sales growth is particularly encouraging for the grocery sector. After a strong spike in the run-up to Halloween, food retailers will also feel optimistic about Christmas. However, concern about inflation is definitely heightening, with 75% of shoppers expecting food prices to rise in the year ahead, up from 62% who felt this in September.”