UK retail sales were higher than expected in October, with sales boosted by the growth in online shopping.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the volume of retail sales increased by 0.9% in October, higher than analysts’ predictions of 0.3%. This represents the biggest monthly rise since November last year.

The highest three-monthly growth was in non-store retailing, which grew by 3.3% from August to October. According to the ONS, this reflects increased sales growth by internet retailers.

Many predictions point to a rise in online sales volumes this Christmas, as more and more shoppers see the benefits of avoiding the hassle that high street shopping represents at this time of year.

IMRG figures predict that UK online Christmas sales will increase by 40% this year to £7 billion, up from £5 billion in 2005. It is predicted that an average of £4 million will be spent every hour in the 10 weeks up to Christmas.