Figures for March show overall like-for-like sales up by just over eight per cent (8.1 per cent) on last year.
Non-fashion sales rose by 7.2 per cent. The early Easter break helped to boost sales in most categories with gifting and leisure the top performers. In contrast, demand for luxury goods subsided somewhat.
Homewares sales rose steeply with a 9.1 per cent increase. The traditional Easter starts to the DIY season fuelled a surge for many stores, with textiles and furniture performing particularly well.
Sales through non-store channels continued their strong run with a monthly gain of 40 per cent. Although most stores are still seeing consistent gains, there are tentative signs of slight slowing of growth.
Don Williams, Head of Retail at BDO LLP commented: "An early Easter, sunny weather and cleverly targeted promotions have seen retailers report excellent results for March. Sales were up across all categories and this has been a huge and much-needed boost to the retail sector.
"However, this does not signal the end of the downturn. We expect that the second half of the year will be more of a struggle for the sector, so retailers must focus on excelling in customer service to make sure people continue to spend money on the high street."