Shoppers splurged on summer clothing during June
Sales in UK shops shot up 1.2% in June following a sharp fall in May as hot summer weather boosted clothing purchases, official figures show.
The jump was much more than the 0.3% rise expected by economists. Retail sales had fallen 0.9% in May.
The Office for National Statistics said that sales rose 2.9% from June 2008.
Shops have also brought forward their summer sales, which along with the effects of last month's heatwave, enticed consumers to spend.
Earlier this week, clothing retailer Next said the good weather had bolstered its sales, allowing its to raise its profit forecast.
The much better-than-expected retail sales figures lend support to the view that the UK is now over the worst of the recession.
Economic growth figures due on Friday are expected to show that the economy shrank by about 0.4% between April and June, compared with a 2.4% contraction in the first three months of the year.
However, retail sales are often volatile and analysts said UK households would continue to struggle.
"Nobody should take too much comfort from today's figures - household retrenchment has a way to run yet, especially with unemployment rising," said Colin Ellis at Daiwa Securities.
The ONS said that sales in textile, clothing and footwear stores rose by 11.3% from a year earlier, but sales of big-ticket household items were down.