Commenting on the data, Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays said: “Christmas’ influence is clearly evident on the high street, and this may indeed prove to be a season of much needed joy for the retail sector. Sales are up, and retailers will feel more encouraged as clothing and household goods have performed particularly well. The mixed views of the past few months now appear to be converging, indicating positive movement in sales between September and October.
“The inclement weather and the late half-term break in October have had a positive effect on today’s figures. Over the last month anecdotal evidence indicates a greater inclination towards weekend shopping, boosting Sunday sales. The colder weather still to come is likely to continue to bolster the retail sector, particularly in terms of clothing sales and other winter essentials.
“Both shoppers and retailers will be carefully considering the forthcoming rise in VAT as we move ever closer to a percentage hike in the New Year. Christmas shoppers will be looking not only at their gift lists this year, but also big-ticket items which they may wish to snap-up prior to the forthcoming sales tax increase. In contrast to the sudden cut in VAT late last year, retailers have been aware that it would be reinstated to at least 17.5 per cent since then, and with stocks now under much tighter control their eyes will be fixed upon margin management.”