Retail sales in Britain unexpectedly soared in January. Sales volumes rose 0.9 percent month on month to give an annual rise of two percent.
Economists had forecast a monthly fall of 0.4 percent in sales. This compares with a monthly rise of 0.6 percent in December, when shops lured cash-strapped customers with hefty pre-Christmas discounts.
Data from the Office for National Statistics noted that retailers’ promotions on household goods and furniture helped drive the monthly increase in sales in January.
The surprise jump adds to signs that the UK economy is returning to growth.
Britain’s central bank and the government hope with inflation falling consumers will spend more this year and support the fragile reccovery.
A raft of strong business surveys and evidence of
stabilisation in the labour market have raised hopes that Britain will avoid recession after an economic contraction in the last three months of 2011.
The latest data chimes with other recent signs of a tentative recovery in all-important consumption, which accounts for more than 60 percent of Britain’s output.