The figures showed that total sales fell by 0.8 percent when compared with August, making it much lower than the 0.1% drop that was expected.
Retail sales fell by 0.8 percent in September, reversing a jump in August and slowing third-quarter retail growth to a year-on-year rate of 1.5 percent.
The decline was driven largely by a fall in sales of non-essential items, such as spectacles, souvenirs, weapons and collectables.
That means that retail sales will have had a positive impact overall on third quarter economic growth figures, which are due for release next week.
Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: "It's important to avoid overstating the negatives in September's retail sales, as retailers did manage to post year-on-year growth despite the range of headwinds they are battling now".
Inflation stood at 2.9 percent in August and rose to 3 percent in September, its highest level since 2012.
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"However, the prospect of the Bank of England raising interest rates for the first time in over 10 years next month could come at a challenging time for the retail sector". Excluding bonuses, average earnings were 2.1 percent higher.
On an annual basis, sales rose 1.2%, falling below the 2.1% increase analysts had forecast, while the 2.4% increase from the previous month was revised lower to 2.3%.
United Kingdom retail sales fell more than expected last month, official figures confirmed on Thursday, further muddying the waters over whether the Bank of England will hike interest rates next month. "On top of that the Bank could well find its credibility compromised if it fails to follow through on its recent hawkish commentary, and would once again be on the hook for providing "forward misguidance".
Data on rising prices comes after the headline inflation rate hit 3 per cent this week, outstripping wage increases of 2.1 per cent.
Inflation looks likely to hover at 3% or just above for the rest of 2017, he noted, with earnings growth showing little sign of picking up despite the unemployment rate coming down to 4.3%.
"And as today's data shows, inflation is already starting to take its toll".