An economist has predicted that 2013 will be a tough year for retailers, in reaction to the latest retail figures.
Samuel Tombs, UK economist at Capital Economics, said:
– Samuel Tombs, UK economist at Capital Economics
Admittedly, the weakness of the official figures stands in contrast to the relatively upbeat tone of the retail surveys, suggesting that the former should not necessarily be treated as gospel.
Nonetheless, 2013 still looks set to be another tough year for retailers, given the likelihood of a further significant squeeze on real pay and a weaker jobs market.
John Lewis has bucked the trend of the fall in retail sales, with a 21.9% increase in year on year sales to 9 February.
Online sales also increased 36.4% year-on-year in the week to 9 February.
Financial analysis firm IHS Global Insight described the new figures as "a robust performance."
The UK high street has seen an unexpected fall in sales, as retailers suffered a 0.6% fall in sales between December and January.
The figures were in contrast to predictions that sales would bounce back, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The ONS said the icy conditions hit many smaller food shops, with some forced to close as snow blanketed parts of Britain, pushing food sales volumes down 1.6%.
The figures will reignite fears that the UK economy is on course for a triple-dip recession after the first estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) in the final three months of last year showed the economy contracted.
Retail sales volumes fell by 0.6% in January, following a downwardly-revised fall of 0.3% in December, the Office for National Statistics said today.