The retail sector experienced bigger than expected growth at the start of the fourth quarter.

Retail trade sales increased 2.2% year on year in October 2018 after a contraction of 0.7% in September.

The muted growth in September was higher than economists’ consensus of 1.5%, according to a poll by Bloomberg.

The Bureau of Economic Research (BER) retail survey said “retailers expect conditions to improve somewhat in the fourth quarter of 2018”.

The boost came from retailers in household furniture, appliances and equipment (10.1%); all “other” retailers (6.2%); retailers in pharmaceuticals and medical goods, cosmetics and toiletries (4.2%); and retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods (3.4%).

October’s total retail sales came to R85.7bn. In “constant prices” set to 2015, which Stats SA uses to strip inflation out of its sales growth figures, October’s retail sales amounted to R75.8bn.

Compared to the month prior, retail trade sales increased 0.6% in October 2018.