Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

UK retail sales rebound in February, says trade group

Consumers have returned to the shops following the winter weather

Retail sales bounced back in February after a tough January on the High Street, figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed.

Like-for-like sales were up 2.2%, the BRC said, compared the 0.7% fall seen in January, when snow put off shoppers.

The rise was greeted with caution, however, as sales for this February compare with very weak trading in February last year.

Food sales were also sluggish, growing at their slowest rate since 2007.

"Despite appearances, these results are not that strong," commented Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.

"The growth is compared with very weak figures a year ago when February saw the worst of last winter's weather and this February's performance was helped by sales postponed from January - particularly sales of non-food items such as homewares and fashion."

Many non-food sectors saw strong growth in the first week of February as a result, while confectionery and jewellery also did well in the run-up to Valentine's Day.

The growth in food sales slowed again, however. The BRC said it was because consumers had stockpiled food during January's poor weather.

But online and telephone sales benefited from the improved weather conditions, jumping 15.5% compared with last year, as deliveries resumed following the snow.

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