Retail sales jumped 3.3% by volume year-on-year in February, according to the ONS, with department stores the star performer.

Sales volumes, excluding fuel, were up 1.9% on the previous month. In value terms, sales were up 3.4% year-on-year and 1.4% month-on-month as £25.4bn was spent across retail in February.

Non-food was the main driver of the sales jump as food volumes dipped 1.2% year-on-year. Food values, however, increased 0.7%.

Non-food sales volumes increased 5.4% compared to a 4.3% value increase. Department store sales were up 10.6% in volume and 8.6% in value year-on-year while clothing and footwear sales rose 3% in volume and 2.9% in value.

Average shop price inflation decreased by 0.9% indicating that shoppers were buying more items at lower prices.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “There are some reassuring signs here that people are starting to feel a little more positive, but it’s too early to gauge whether this is a temporary upturn or if we’re on the cusp of more secure and lasting revival.

“This gradual growth certainly can’t be taken for granted, as the mixed picture of the last few months confirms that the path to recovery remains a fragile one.”

Online sales were up 10.1% year-on-year over the month to £540.5m. Online now accounts for 9.7% of all retail sales.