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Returning consumer confidence gives UK retail sales a much-needed boost

BRITISH retailers will breathe a sigh of relief today following the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which showed a healthy improvement in like-for-like retail sales last month.<br /><br />The data showed that UK retail sales values rose 2.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis in September compared to the previous year when turmoil in the financial markets and very wet weather hit sales. This is well above the consensus of 0.9 per cent year-on-year.<br /><br />Food sales growth in the three months to September slowed to 2.9 per cent, reflecting lower food price inflation. The more discretionary non-food sales rose 0.8 per cent in the second quarter, boosted by clothing and footwear as well as homewares and furniture.<br /><br />Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: &ldquo;For some customers confidence is trickling back. These are the best total sales growth figures since January 2008.&rdquo;<br /><br />These results give some room for optimism in the run up to Christmas. But Robertson warned: &ldquo;Consumer sentiment is volatile and could weaken again.