Retail sales rose 1.9 per cent month-on-month by value in February and advanced 2.1% by volume, the Office for National Statistics reported.

Year-on-year, the value of sales was up 4.9% and volume 3.5%. Excluding automotive fuel, year-on-year growth was 5.3% by value and 5.4% by volume.

The 4.9% increase in the ONS Retail Sales Index included a 0.5 percentage point contribution from food stores, 3.4 points from predominantly non-food stores and 0.9 points from non-store retailing.

In volume terms food stores were down 0.5%. An 8.4% advance in non-food store volume included a 9.5% rise by textile, clothing and footwear stores and a 4.4 increase and household goods stores. Non-store volumes climbed 20.4%.

Deloitte strategic advisor Richard Hyman said the strong year on year performance had to be viewed against weak comparatives in 2009 and a boost from sales diverted from retailers that hit the wall.

“Without such a boost, it is questionable whether the annual retail sales growth figure of 3.5% wouldn’t be closer to zero,” he said.