By Jonathan Davies

UK retail sales grew by 0.7% in February, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Sales were up 0.7% compared with January, and grew faster than expected. Compared with February 2014, they increased by 5.7%.

The ONS said the recovery in the UK's housing market in the early months of the year.

Average store prices were down 3.6% compared with last year and fell for a eighth month in a row.

Keith Richardson, Managing Director Retail Sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Price is still king for the consumer and shoppers’ spending power remains strong due to a combination of rising employment and pay prospects, together with falling energy, fuel and food costs.

“This combination is beginning to feed into real growth in the retail world.

“In February, more money in shoppers’ pockets meant more sales of romantic Valentine’s Day gifts, while the recovery in the housing market strengthened sales of big ticket items such as furniture.

“Retailers will now this positive momentum carries into next week’s Easter weekend.”