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Retailers say they received a "reality check" last month after sales on the high street in September made it the weakest month of the year so far.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG said like-for-like sales growth of 0.7% on a year ago made September the weakest month of the year to date and showed that consumers are still cautious despite signs of economic recovery.
Unseasonably warm weather stifled sales of autumn and winter clothing collections, with shoppers happy to leave purchases until later on.KPMG's head of retail David McCorquodale said: "These figures are a reality check and will make retailers nervous as we enter the run up to Christmas."
Grocery sales showed a weak performance in September, although sales of children's clothing and shoes put in a strong showing due to the tail-end of the traditional back-to-school spending spree.
The UK economic recovery still faces "significant challenges" despite a growth spurt of around one percent over the most recent quarter, business leaders have said.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) wants the Government and Bank of England to ensure that momentum is maintained, particularly as external risks such as the US debt crisis threaten to derail the fragile recovery.
Its quarterly economic survey, which is made up of responses from more than 7,400 businesses, shows improvements in most key areas for both manufacturing and services compared with the second quarter.
BCC director general John Longworth said: "The Government mustn't get distracted, and has to put growth first at all times."We will be looking ahead to the Autumn Statement in the hope that the Chancellor uses this opportunity to make a real difference and go all out in the name of growth."