British consumers continue to confound economic doom-mongers, with news that retail sales were up again in September.

According to the Office for National Statistics, sales volumes last month rose 0.2% from August and 5.9% year-on-year.

However, growth is slowing, down from August’s revised increase of 0.7%, though analysts expressed confidence that consumer spending could continue to fuel economic expansion. The aggregated figures for the last three months show an 8.3% rise from the same period a year earlier – the strongest growth since 1988.

The marginal slowdown was largely attributable to a 0.4% monthly fall in food sales. In contrast, non-food sales increased 0.4%, driven by a 0.8% surge in clothing sales. In addition, the value of non-food sales registered the highest increase for almost four years, 7.8% year-on-year.

Interestingly, no specific effect on sales from the September 11 attacks was apparent. “It was difficult to assess whether there was any impact on sales,” said one statistician. “But we did not notice anything in particular.”

News sources: The Times (London), BBC Online Business News (UK)