British retail sales received a surprise boost in October thanks to early pre-Christmas widespread discounting pushing up volumes to 0.6 percent -- the fastest pace since June, official data showed on Thursday.

Early pre-Christmas promotions by retailers drove up sales volumes 0.6 percent, confounding forecasts of a fall of 0.2 percent, the Office for National Statistics said.

The ONS said on the year, sales rose 0.9 percent, also well above expectations for a flat reading.

The figures highlight the measures retailers are taking to lure in cash-strapped shoppers, who have been hit by the biggest squeeze on incomes in 30 years.

The ONS said there had been a particularly strong rise in sales of computers, telecoms, sporting goods, toys, watches and jewelry.

These stores come under the 'other stores' category, which recorded its highest monthly rise in sales since July 2010.

"Feedback from retailers was that growth in sales came as a result of pre-Christmas sales and promotions across the board," the ONS said.

It added this was most evident among food retailers and tallied with inflation data earlier this week, which showed that a supermarket price war contributed to a slowdown in inflation.

Excluding fuel, retail sales rose 0.6 percent on the month and were up 0.9 percent on the year.

A survey overnight which showed consumer morale fell to a record low in October.

Bank of England policymakers said on Wednesday that weak consumption was one of the main reasons for the country's lacklustre recovery, but that spending was likely to pick up towards the end of next year when inflation is expected to be much lower.

Recent surveys have shown underlying retail sales are weak, and the British Retail Consortium warned that a fall in its October survey of retail sales augured badly for the crucial Christmas trading period.