Retail sales in October were up 1.4% compared with September but still down 1.7% from a year ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Total U.S. retail and foodservice sales in October were $347.5 billion. Of that total, grocery stores accounted for $44.38 billion and foodservice sales totaled $38.38 million, according to a Census Bureau report released Nov. 16.

Grocery stores sales were about the same as September, when total sales were $44.2 billion. Grocery store sales also were up slightly from $44.12 billion in October 2008.

Meanwhile, foodservice sales in October 2009 were up from $37.9 billion in September and $37.8 billion in October 2008.

While grocery store and foodservice sales were up slightly, other U.S. retail categories registered significant declines.

For example, both building material stores and gasoline stations sales were off 15% compared with October 2008, the Census Bureau said.

Canadian retailer Loblaw Co.’s said Nov. 17 that while third-quarter earnings were up 20% because of supply chain efficiencies, same store sales fell 0.6%.

Steve Lutz, executive vice president of the West Dundee, Ill.-based Perishables Group, said recent trends for produce movement at the retail level reflect some deflationary pressure.

“What we were seeing was that prices were, across a lot of product categories, coming down which was putting pressure on dollars and volume was increasing,” he said.