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David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said the January sales figures gave retailers reasons to be cheerful and were a strong start to what is anticipated to be a tough year.
"While technology advances may have hastened the demise of HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops, many retailers will look back at the last two months with pride after implementing successful seasonal campaigns where they have served the customer well."
But he warned that sales were only one side of the equation and only time would tell about the true cost of promotions and margin squeezes used to drive sales.
Like-for-like retail sales in January were up 1.9% on the previous year, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.
For the three previous months:
- In December, total UK sales were up 1.5% on last Christmas
- In November, like-for-like sales rose by 0.4% in value on the year
- October's UK retail sales were 0.1% lower than in 2011.
January retail sales were boosted by shoppers tempted out with new year offers and promotions, new figures show.
The British Retail Consortium said like-for-like sales grew at the fastest rate since December 2011, up 1.9% on the previous year, as shoppers also bought televisions, tablet computers and smartphones.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said that while sales suffered during last month's cold snap, it was short-lived and failed to cancel out the positive showing across the month.