UK retail sales rose in October, ending two months of declines, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales were 0.5% higher than the month before. But it said sales had declined by 0.5% in September, worse than its first estimate of a 0.2% fall. And compared with a year ago, October's sales were down 0.1%, the first year-on-year fall since January. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the figures confirmed the tough trading conditions on the high street before Christmas. Responding to the ONS figures, BRC Director General, Stephen Robertson, said: “These official figures are broadly in line with the 2.4% growth shown in the BRC Retail Sales Monitor. This is weak growth and even weaker when you remember VAT is up on a year ago and inflation is running at more than three per cent. “Food sales growth, propped up by inflationary pressure from rising commodity prices, is the driving force behind this modest increase in overall sales. Shaky consumer confidence continues to discourage spending, particularly on non-essential items. Retailers are being squeezed as they use heavy discounting and promotions to tempt wary shoppers into spending their limited spare cash. “This meagre growth is likely to continue in the run-up to Christmas. Then 2011 will continue to be difficult as VAT and National Insurance rise and the impact of public sector job cuts is felt.”