This Christmas is expected to be the best for retailers since the start of the recession as sales climb by £2bn year on year to reach more than £88bn.

Even categories which have been among the hardest hit in recent years, such as furniture and DIY, are expected to grow according to research by Verdict.

Retail revenues during the golden fourth quarter are expected to come in at £88.4bn, which is 2.2% up on 2012.

Food sales are expected to be boosted by inflation but will also be ahead by volume, accounting for £34.6bn of the seasonal total. Non-food sales will make up the remaining £52bn.

Improved consumer confidence as a result of more encouraging economic indicators, job creation and new signs of life in the housing market are likely to create better conditions for spending.

Online retail sales are expected to rise by 12% over the period to account for £11.6bn of spending, Verdict said, and December 23 is forecast to be one of the busiest delivery days of the year.