Shoppers stayed away from the high street this month in what could be a "little bit of a breather" before the festive period gets into full swing.
The CBI’s monthly distributive trades survey showed 38 per cent reported sales volumes rose on a year ago, while 20 per cent said they were down. The gap of +19 points compares with +49 points posted in September.
However, the employers organisation said sales were still well-above average for the time of year, and growth is expected to pick up slightly next month.
"Growth in sales and orders for high street retailers remains resilient, but there has been a slight slowdown in the pace of that growth following a strong September," Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of economics, said.
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Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS, said: "This is still a very decent survey, especially given that sales had been so strong in September."
"There may well be an element of consumers taking a little bit of a breather in October to gear up for Christmas after splashing out in September," Archer added.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "Retailers expect slightly stronger growth in the all-important pre-Christmas period. But this sweet spot won't last much longer, with inflation on course to rebound next year, while firms are losing their appetite for hiring."