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British Retail Sales Surge in September Reuters

Cold weather in September has boosted retail sales, as shoppers splurged on winter clothing making it the fastest pace in retail sales growth this year.

Like-for-like sales rose 1.5 percent as against a fall of 0.4 percent in August, according to data released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

"After a poor summer for sales, this is a return to growth rates we've come to regard as relatively acceptable in these relentlessly tough times," said BRC Director General Stephen Robertson.

"This September's colder conditions contrast sharply with the heat wave a year ago, giving clothing and footwear sales a major boost as shoppers stock up early on coats, boots and knitwear.

"Children's clothes and shoes did particularly well in September, partly because many people left back-to-school buying later this year as a result of competition for their time in August."

Online sales also witnessed a surge in September with a 9.9 percent rise compared to the same period a year ago. However, internet shopping was at 4.8 percent in August, the slowest rate of growth since 2008.

The new sales figures have given rise to hopes of a lasting economic recovery with some people having more disposable incomes. But, in sharp contrast to the trend in clothing shopping, home accessory sales fell at the fastest pace in September.

Meanwhile, the IMF has made a downward revision of the economic forecast for the UK economy to a contraction of 0.4 percent in 2012 as against its July forecast of a 0.2 percent growth.

The IMF also expects the British economy to grow by 1.1 percent, down from the previous forecast of 1.4 percent for 2013.

"Indicators of activity and unemployment show increasing and broad-based economic sluggishness in the first half of 2012, and no significant improvement in the third quarter," said the IMF.