UK retail sales grew at their fastest rate since March 2010 in January boosted by a strong performance in furniture and other non-food items.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show that sales increased by 3.9% on a like-for-like basis from January 2013 while total sales grew by 5.4% to record the best growth in almost four years.
The 3-month average total growth was 3.2%, back in line with the 12-month trend, now at 3.0%.
Furniture was the top performing category, achieving its best growth since April 2006, while Other Non-Food was the key contributor to overall growth.
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 19.2% in January versus a year earlier, the strongest January since 2009. The online penetration rate achieved 17.4% in January.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "Our figures for January show strong growth but a story of two halves. With a record number of people now in work and the continued recovery in the housing market we have seen very strong performances in furniture and other non-food items. These figures are better than expected given the continued squeeze on personal finances but official figures show that this is not built on personal debt which remains below pre-recession levels.
"Customers responded enthusiastically to a range of sales and promotions on non-food items this January. Retailers succeeded in tempting shoppers in with promotions, they also saw strong demand across new ranges, helped by improvements in consumer confidence. This was not the case in food which in contrast saw very low levels of growth in the last quarter.
"January's figures set 2014 off to a good start; however comparisons are against soft non-food sales in January 2013, which will not be the case in February. Given the underlying conditions, it remains to be seen how the trend for the rest of the year will pan out."