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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 00:15 GMT
Healthy foods 'lift retail sales'
Fruit and vegetables
Post-Christmas demand for fruit and vegetables was high
High Street sales saw their best performance in January for three years, according to a leading industry survey.

Shoppers looking for clearance bargains and demand for healthier foods pushed like-for-like retail sales up 3.1%, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.

Last month's figure showed a marked improvement on January 2006, when sales rose by just 0.2%, the BRC said.

Robust growth in retail sales may also suggest that recent interest rate rises have not yet hit consumer confidence.

The Bank of England last month announced a shock quarter percentage point increase in interest rates to 5.25%, in a "pre-emptive bid" to curb inflation.


On a three-month basis, like-for-like retail sales also rose by 2.1%, the BRC said.

Sales of healthier foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as organic products, were particularly strong during January.

However, clothing sales were down compared to the first month of 2006, with womanswear sales at their weakest since June last year.

"Much of the growth has been driven by the grocery sector and discounting has been fairly widespread in several other categories," said BRC director general Kevin Hawkins.

"The comparatives from last year are weak and the November and January interest rate increases have yet to make themselves felt," he added.

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