New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that British retailers experienced a stronger-than-expected month in February, with sales volumes rising by 1.2% across the sector.
This figure was a whole percentage point higher than the 0.2% growth that experts were predicting. The ONS also upgraded its January retail figures to 0.9% growth, up from a previous estimate of 0.5%.
According to the ONS, the soaring cost of living had helped some shops, such as discount department stores. Food shops saw a rise in sales of 0.9%, whilst non-food stores jumped up by 2.4%. Meanwhile, the amount spent at retailers rose by 6.3% over the last 12 months, excluding petrol and diesel, despite volumes falling 3.3%.
Despite the positive February sales figures, ONS noted that the broader picture remains subdued, with retail sales showing little real growth, particularly over the last 18 months due to rising prices hitting consumer spending power.
Retail spending appears to be more resilient than many expected at the start of the year, but retailers may be hoping that sales momentum will pick up pace as the year progresses, especially towards the end of the year when disposable incomes are expected to start increasing in real terms.