Retailers defied the snow in January as the like-for-like value of retail sales increased 1.9% year on year, which is the strongest growth for 13 months.
Total UK sales were up 3% compared with a 2.1% rise in January 2012, which is the highest total sales growth since September 2012, according to the BRC/KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Online sales increased 10.1% compared with January 2012, when they had risen by 11.3%.
Like-for-likes in food rose 1% while non-food sales were up 0.7%. Total sales increased 3.1% in food and 1.3% in non-food.
Sales suffered while the UK was covered in a blanket of snow, however, retailers quickly recovered. Footwear and pure-play etail sales were boosted by the snow but multichannel retailers were hindered as shoppers were not able to get to stores to collect orders.
Like-for-likes fell in clothing and health and beauty but rose in furniture and flooring.
BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said: “After a fairly subdued December, these results are sure to lift spirits for many. Retailers didn’t have high hopes for strong sales at Christmas, but this meant that they prepared well and headed into the new year with less stock to clear than last year.
“People were tempted out by offers and promotions but also treated themselves to full-price and premium products early in January, particularly must-have technology items. These factors, coupled with recovering consumer confidence, have added up to a more successful January than we saw last year.”
She added: “Sales suffered during the recent cold snap, but it was thankfully short-lived and didn’t cancel out the positive showing across the month as a whole.”
KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale said: “Targeted promotional campaigns from the grocers fighting for market share helped drive strong January food sales, which triggered the first acceleration in food’s three-month growth rate since last July.
“While technology advances may have hastened the demise of HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops, many retailers will look back at the last two months with pride after implementing successful seasonal campaigns where they have served the customer well.”