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Retail sales bounce back in January

Retail sales volumes jumped 0.8% between December and January.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), sales at non-food stores rose by 0.4% during the month.

Paul Clarke, national director retail and wholesale sectors, Barclays Commercial Bank said: "This month's statistics show an increase in sales from December 2007 and the same period in January last year. This clearly suggests a bounceback from the weaker high street retail performance over Christmas. With a particularly buoyant period in the first week of the new year, retailers have successfully enticed back shoppers who deliberately held off in December."

Clarke added: "However, from my conversations with major retailers, life on the high street isn't necessarily rosy. January's increase was largely due to extensive price cutting which has squeezed margins. In the current climate, the need to give such large shopper incentives means retailers, especially clothing retailers, are fighting hard for every £1 of sales and we must not ignore the impact this has on their bottom line."

"Although a positive start to 2008, this month’s statistics do not alter the general outlook that the high street will have a tough time until the end of March, when an early Easter may provide a much-needed boost. Let's hope the recent good weather holds out to encourage high footfall and high spend," he said.

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