Retail sales rose 2.9% by value and 2.4% by volume in July compared with the same month last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The figures - which exclude fuel sales - also show sales edged up by just under 1% by both volume and value compared with June.
However, the most striking finding was that the volume of sales in those stores which predominantly sell food fell by 1.7% compared to July 2010. Sales by value in the same stores were up by 0.8% in the same period.
Growth was stronger in non-food stores. Clothing sales rose 5.5% by volume and 3.1% by value, while the weakest performance was by retailers selling household goods, up by 0.3% by volume but down by the same percentage in value terms.
The figures are at odds with those produced by the British Retail Consortium, which have shown food sales continuing to outperform non-food.
Non-store retail sales were up 16.7% by volume and 15.4% by value.