Year-on-year sales in January were up 9.1 per cent according to BDO LLP.
Milder weather and continued discounting gave a welcome boost to mid-market retailers and helped ensure a particularly strong first half of January. While the year-on-year figures were boosted by comparisons with weeks affected by heavy snowfall in the early days of 2010, there was growth across the board.
Fashion sales increased by 10 per cent on sales in January 2010 while non-fashion rose by 6.8 per cent, helped by strong postings from luxury retailers in the capital.
At 10.5 per cent, homewares sales were also strong, with shoppers flocking to take advantage of ‘VAT busting’ offers that held VAT at 17.5 per cent past the 4 January rise to 20 per cent.
Online purchases were up by an astounding 49 per cent - growth rates not seen in nearly a year, with clothing sales particularly positive. Retailers are reaping the rewards from consumers’ love affair with internet shopping, with approximately £1 in every £5 forked out by consumers now spent online.
Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said: "This year has had a healthy start thanks to promotional activity around the VAT rise and the New Year Bank Holiday falling on a shopping day.
"However, now the New Year buzz has worn off, retailers will be preparing for a tough first quarter. With momentum starting to build behind new platforms such as mobile commerce, getting non-store offers right will be even more crucial this year."