Retail sales grow at fastest rate for 13 months

According to the latest British Retail Consortium and KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, like-for-like retail sales rose by 1.9pc in January compared with the same month last year.

The increase in sales was achieved despite snow covering the UK for parts of the month and disrupting footfall on the high street, reports The Telegraph.

Helen Dickinson, director-general of the BRC, said: “After a fairly subdued December, these results are sure to lift spirits . Retailers didn’t have high hopes for strong sales at Christmas, but this meant that they prepared well and headed into the New Year with less stock to clear than last year.

“People were tempted out by offers and promotions but also treated themselves to full-price and premium products early in January, particularly must-have technology items. All in all, these figures give a sense that the mood is lifting a little for customers and retailers .”

Total retail sales grew by 3pc, the largest increase since September, while online sales rose by 10.1pc.

Ms Dickinson said that the snow had helped to boost sales of footwear – particularly boots – and this was the best-performing retail category .

However, despite an increase in sales of knitwear, clothing endured its worst performance for 14 months as the weather dampened demand for new spring and summer ranges.

Food sales got off to a “good start” , with a boost in demand for fresh fruit and vegetables as consumers attempted to stick by New Year’s resolutions to improve their diet.

However, sales were helped by the fact that the BRC and KPMG survey included New Year’s Eve, when the comparable period in 2012 did not.

According to Visa Europe’s spending index, household expenditure rose by 1pc in January compared with December, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

However, this was weighted towards the internet, with a 4pc boost in online spending and a 3pc fall on the high street.

Steve Perry, commercial director at Visa Europe, said: “The New Year appears to have got off to a better than anticipated start with consumer spending in January rising by 1pc on the previous month.

“This represents the largest rise in monthly spending since September’s post-Olympic boost.”