While the volume of orders placed on suppliers was broadly flat (+2 per cent), this was still a marked improvement from last month’s year-on-year fall (-11 per cent) and beat expectations of another decline (-8 per cent).
Stock levels also fell back relative to expected demand (+4 per cent), and are now at their lowest since September 2009 (+3 per cent).
CBI chair and Asda COO Judith McKenna said: "It is encouraging that sales on the high street have seen a slight rise in the year to September, and that retailers expect growth to pick up further next month.
"However, while the squeeze on family budgets may have eased in the short term thanks to the fall in inflation, on-going economic fragility, reflecting uncertainty around the international outlook, could affect household spending later in the year."
Garden Centre Association figures put sales up five per cent for the month of August but five per cent down for the year.