UK retail
Sales of both food and non-food items increased in the three months to September Daniel Leal-Olivas/ Getty Images

Higher prices for food and clothing helped to increase retail sales in September, fresh figures show.

Like-for-like sales increased by 1.9% compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG, compared with a 1.6% increase in August.

The sales increase in September was credited to retailers passing on higher costs to consumers, particularly in the food and clothing categories.

Total sales were up 2.3% last month, slightly slower than the 2.4% growth recorded in August.

The BRC said consumer spending was mostly concentrated around essential purchases such as winter coats and back-to-school items, with expenditure on big-ticket items such as furniture and household electrical goods remaining sluggish.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said the positive retail sales numbers in September heightened the chance of the Bank of England raising interest rates before the end of the year.

"September saw a second consecutive month of relatively good sales growth which should indicate welcome news for retailers and the economy alike," she said.

"Looking beneath the surface though, we see that much of this growth is being driven by price increases filtering through.

"Retailers have worked hard to keep a lid on price rises following the depreciation of the pound, but with a potent mix of more expensive imports and increasing business costs from various government policies, something had to give at some point."

The report showed that food sales increased 2.5% on a like-for-like basis over the three months to September, while non-food sales were up 0.5%.

Online sales of non-food products jumped 10.7%, as shoppers responded positively to discounts and the ongoing investment by retailers in improving the mobile shopping experience.

Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, said: "With potential interest rate rises on the horizon, shaky consumer confidence and ever increasing levels of household debt, uncertainty remains.

"We're now moving into the final quarter, which will ultimately define whether 2017 has been a good or bad year for retailers."