UK retail sales unexpectedly saw their biggest fall in 10 months in August as demand for food plunged, reversing a surge the previous month.

Sales, including fuel, declined 0.9% from July, the Office for National Statistics said today.

Food dropped 2.7% after increasing that amount the previous month, which was the biggest gain since April 2011.

The report may temper rising optimism about the outlook for the economy after services, manufacturing and construction all strengthened last month.

The Bank of England, which has said it will keep interest rates low until the UK has achieved sustainable expansion, said yesterday that the recovery is “taking hold” and its staff raised their growth forecast for this quarter to 0.7% from 0.5%.

In July, food sales were boosted by hot weather, and the ONS said retailers reported that they “returned to a more normal level” last month. Excluding food, retail sales rose 0.4% in August from July, according to the report.

Also driving the decline in sales were household goods, which fell 1.6%, led by a 7.8% drop in furniture. That was partly due to the timing of a public holiday on August 26 after the reporting period for the August data had ended.

Furniture sales are often boosted by discounting by stores during holiday weekends. Clothing and footwear sales rose 1.1% on the month.