Retail sales fell in September as shoppers cut back their spending on food after a bumper summer, figures show.
Sales were down by 0.8% compared with August, mainly due to a fall of 1.5% in food stores – the largest decline since October 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Sales still held up in the three months to September with an increase of 1.2% on the previous quarter, largely due to strong growth in watches and jewellery stores, plus online retailers faring particularly well.
Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell slightly to 17.8% in September from the 18% reported in August, yet food and clothing stores both reported record proportions of internet retail at 5.8% and 18.2% respectively.
Sales were up 3% on the same time last year but the figure fell short of economists’ forecasts of a 3.6% rise.
ONS head of retail sales Rhian Murphy said: “Retail continued to grow in the three months to September with jewellery shops and online stores seeing particularly strong sales.
“This was despite a stark slowdown in food sales in September following a bumper summer.”