Retail sales softened in October as food sales growth slowed and non-food sales weakened, according to the latest research. The British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for October showed UK retail sales values were 0.6% lower on a like-for-like basis from October 2010, when sales had risen 0.8%. On a total basis, sales were up 1.5%, against a 2.4% increase in October 2010. The survey said that uncertain prospects for personal finances and the economy continued to make shoppers careful, giving priority to essentials and replacements over discretionary items. Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: "Which part of the wave we're riding varies from month to month but the water is consistently chilly. For a fifth month, total sales growth continues its strangely regular flip-flopping between 2.5 and 1.5%. But, the year-to-date figure, which smooths out these minor moves, is unchanged from the previous month. This is evidence of the basic weakness of consumer confidence and demand and worrying this close to Christmas. "Underneath the headline figure, the year-to-date results show almost no growth in non-food sales. Allowing for the VAT rise since last year, that suggests a substantial drop in sales volumes while the food figures indicate very little volume growth. It's clear customers are cutting back whatever they're buying.”