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Retailers pin hopes on Christmas as inflation buoys sales

The value of retail sales has increased by 5.4 per cent year on year, buoyed by high inflation.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that the volume of sales also increased slightly by 0.6 per cent in September 2011, compared to September 2010.

But the growth in sales values has been driven by high inflation, rather than increased business, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which highlights how crucial a successful Christmas period will be.

Commenting, BRC director general, Stephen Robertson, said: "Even the slightest growth is good to see in these tricky times but the combination of high inflation and last year's VAT rise means there is little real growth here to cheer the retail sector. Once again the weather has been shown to have a major impact on shoppers' habits. Consumers snubbed new winter clothing and footwear lines as September ended with an exceptional burst of summer.

"Christmas has always been the most important time for retail but this year is going to be particularly critical as businesses look to make up lost ground. Customers can expect to benefit from extremely fierce competition for their spending."