New figures from BDO's High Street Sales Tracker have shown that the first week of 2013 recorded the best weekly performance in three years - however January still ended up being a flat month.
The overall figures show that like for like sales during the month dipped 0.4 per cent year on year.
Retailers were also hit by the heavy snowfall in the third week of January, no doubt contributing to the rise in non-store activity, which was up 41.5 per cent.
"This really was a month of two halves," said Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP. "People spent their Christmas money and vouchers carefully at the beginning of the month and then, when faced with diminishing sale stock, terrible weather and bleak economic forecasts, battened down the hatches.
"After a reasonable December and a strong start to January, retailers are likely to be disappointed the month wasn't slightly more positive.
"With February a notoriously difficult month for the sector, retailers will need to continue to negotiate the difficult consumer environment, but those that offer shoppers what they want and how they want it, backed up by exceptional service, will find that people are still willing to part with their money."
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