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Retail sales rise 1% in February

Retail sales volumes jumped 1% month on month in February, compared with a rise of 0.8% between December and January.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), sales at non-food stores rose by 0.5% during the month.

The average weekly value of retail sales in February was £4.9 billion, 6.6% higher than in February 2007.

Jeremy Rance, National Director of the Retail and Wholesale Sectors, Barclays Commercial Bank said: "This month's sales figures are surprisingly resilient with unexpectedly buoyant activity in February driving an increase of 0.9% compared to January 2008 and 4.7% in the latest three months compared with the same period last year. However, this rosy picture contrasts with more recent evidence from the high street. Retailers describe a challenging time as a result of pressure on consumers' disposable income and cost inflation at both ends of the supply chain. This is best reflected in the 4.2% drop in sales of household goods – the largest decrease in eight years – which reveals the impact that the downturn in the housing market is starting to have on the high street."

Rance added: "Shop prices in February were down by just 0.3% compared to last year but this hides the contrast between rising foodstuff prices and continuing sharp falls in the prices of other goods. Clearly retailers are having to work harder to maintain footfall on the high street. The focus on price, product, service and stock levels has never been more important."

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