shopping bag

Retail sales in the UK grew 3.8% in February compared with last year, taking the sector's period of growth to 34 months, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

On a quarterly basis, sales were up 0.8% in February, marking the 27th consecutive months of growth. However, compared with January, retail sales were down 0.4%.

That monthly decline comes despite average store prices falling 2.5% over the year. In a wider sign of retail prices, February was the 20th month in a row of falling prices.

Following the trend in quantity, the value of sales rose 1.4% from February 2015, but fell 0.7% from January.

Melanie Richard, ONS head of retail sales, said: "Retailers had another strong month in February compared with last year with the exception of clothing and footwear. Some of those stores have been telling us that sales of their new spring & summer collections were hit by the cold and wet weather last month."

David Cheetham, retail market analyst at XTB.com, said: "Despite showing a contraction of 0.4%, the retail sales figures for February are better than expected. Due to seasonality effects, the month on month nature of this data has traditionally shown soft prints for February as the prior release receives a boost to commerce largely because of the January sales. You have to go back to 2012 to find a positive comparable reading for this figure so put in that context, this morning’s numbers will be viewed as positive."