January retail sales volumes jumped 4.3% year-on-year as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed the retail industry is showing consistent growth.
According to data from the ONS the amount spent in in the five weeks to February 1 increased 4.4% year-on-year to £31.9bn, equating to a £6.3bn weekly spend.
Month-on-month retail sales volumes fell 1.5% against December 2013 and the amount spent fell 1.8% month-on-month, dropping off after the Christmas splurge.
But the ONS added that despite the month-on-month fall in sales volumes the amount bought in the industry still remains high and the three month on three month movement jumped 1.1%, confirming growth in the industry.
Homewares retailers said online boosted total sales in January, with sales jumping 5.3% against December driven by an increase in furniture, DIY and electricals retailers.
Year-on-year food sales rose 6.6%. Non-food store sales surged 8%, driven by homewares retailers which experienced a 9.8% sales surge, the biggest year-on-year increase for homewares since before the recession in July 2007. Sales from other good stores soared 14.8%, showing the highest year-on-year growth since 2002. Sales across non-specialised stores and department stores rose 8%.
The ONS believes this growth was in part a result of weak year-on-year comparable figures when heavy snowfall in January 2013 could have impacted sales.
Against last year the amount spent online increased 8.9% but fell 3.3% against the previous month.
Barclays head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said: “Retailers across the UK continued to discount in January to entice shoppers searching for the best sale bargains. This has resulted in a growth in sales, which was further helped by the absence of snow which knocked retailers in early 2013.
“Looking ahead at the next few months, I expect the outlook to remain positive, with modest growth, as consumers are encouraged by positive economic signs including falling inflation.”
Deloitte UK head of retail Ian Geddes added: “Interestingly, we saw less heavy discounting of surplus stock in January, as most retailers got their Christmas order volumes about right. Despite this, January’s figures were still strong, even without the added boost from these extra discount sales.
“In stark contrast to the flurry of January administrations seen in recent years, we saw no major retailers go under last month. This is a clear sign of the sector’s improving health. Despite the adverse weather that has affected the start of the year, retailers will be hoping that strong sales will continue into 2014.”