Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

UK retail sales in strong rebound

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London
Consumers are spending more after a slow start to the year

UK retail sales rose strongly between January and February, official figures show, following a sharp fall a month earlier.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a 2.1% rise in retail sales volumes.

In January, volumes fell by 3% - a sharp revision down from the 1.8% fall initially reported.

Economists said the rise in sales was expected, following suppressed sales in January due to the poor weather.

"Sales in January had been hurt very badly by the weather and the reintroduction of VAT," said Sarah Hewin, senior economist at Standard Chartered, speaking to the BBC.

"We have to be cautious about saying that consumption is on an upward trend, however. Overall spending is still relatively weak."

Compared with last February, sales were up 3.5% - much lower than forecast by most analysts.

In terms of value, sales for February were up 1.9% compared with January, or 5% up on a year ago.

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