Retail sales grew at their fastest rate since March 2010 last month, helped by January sales driving footfall into stores.
Sales were up 5.4%, against a 3.0% increase in January 2013, while like-for-like sales were up 3.9% from the same period last year, according a new report published British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG retail sales monitor.
It was a transitional month for the clothing sector, driven by the sales, with the new Spring ranges also coming gradually into stores, said the report.
There was also demand for nightwear and women’s accessories.
Meanwhile, online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 19.2% in January versus a year earlier, the strongest January since 2009.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Customers responded enthusiastically to a range of sales and promotions on non-food items this January. Retailers succeeded in tempting shoppers in with promotions, they also saw strong demand across new ranges, helped by improvements in consumer confidence. This was not the case in food which in contrast saw very low levels of growth in the last quarter.
KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale said: “These figures mark a strong start to the year for retailers. Most will take much from the positives and see genuine light at the end of the tunnel. However, behind the scenes some have had to discount heavily to secure these sales and will now be counting the cost of this strategy. Others have genuinely beaten expectations.”
“In non-food, there were a number of factors at play, all of which helped to boost sales. The weather in January 2014 was wet and windy but not, from a retail point of view, disruptive, snowy and cold like last year.”