By Max Clarke

British High Streets enjoyed a sudden boost for January, as the retail sales index shows. Compared to January 2009, the value of retail sales jumped 8.2% compared to January 2009. The index, published monthly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), surveys 5,000 businesses across the country.

The index showed non-food shops saw a 9.1% increase in the value of retail sales while food stores increased just 2.7%, largely due to rising commodity prices; while figures for retail volumeshow a 9.5% increase, and a 2.3% decrease respectively.

Medium sized businesses enjoyed the greatest increases, with those employing 40-99 reporting 16.6% gains, while micro businesses employing 1-9 rose 7.6% and those with 100+ growing the least, at 7.0%.

Aggregate retail figures (volume and value) showed a 1.9% growth from December 2010- though December’s figure was depressed by the snow- and a 5.3% increase from January 2010.

“It’s obvious now that a lot of the weakness seen in December was as a result of the snow and that consumers found their way back to the shops easily enough" commented Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First:

“There was a feeling that the increase in VAT would act as a further depressor but this seems to have been false with clothing and shoes rising by 3.4% on the month.

“However, this will of course stoke the fires of inflationary gains in the UK economy after a week in which the UK has been told to expect further increases in prices continued Mr. Cook.