An increase in car sales, buoyed by the introduction of a second 2013 registration plate, pulled retail sales in September up by 0.5% in volume terms.

In value terms, retail sales were ahead 0.5% during the month but were down 0.5% compared to September 2012.

When the motor trade is excluded, however, retail sales were weak in September. They were flat on a monthly basis and down 0.3% in volume terms compared to the same month last year.

The value of retail sales, again excluding the motor trade, was down 0.5% during the month and the year-on-year figure was 1.8% lower.

The sectors showing the largest month-on-month volume increases were the food, beverage and tobacco category which was up 2.3%, and fuel, where sales were up 3.2%.

Books, newspaper and stationery sales fell 2.8% in volume terms during September and furniture and lighting sales were down 6.7%. That was the largest decline in any category.