Constant downpours failed to put off shoppers last month as retail industry figures published today pointed to the strongest sales growth since March 2010.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG said total sales in January rose 5.4% on a year ago as improved job prospects and the recovery in the housing market led to a strong month for homewares and furniture businesses.
However it was not all good news across the sector, with grocers again squeezed by very low levels of sales growth.
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Figures from the British Retail Consortium show how online sales in different types of goods fared:
- Online clothing sales accounted for 21.2% of sales in December - an increase of 3% from last year.
- Furniture and flooring products bought online represented nearly a third of all sales.
- Electrical goods and toys came in at 14.4%, a fall from November's 15.5%.
The drop in electrical goods sales was attributed to consumers searching early on the web for in-demand Christmas products to get hold of them before they went out of stock.
Online sales have become the "main driver for growth" in British retail, after Christmas sales figures showed how popular an option shopping on the internet has become.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KMPG which is behind the figures, explained:
Whilst store sales continue to flatline, online sales remain the main driver of growth for the sector, contributing nearly three quarters of the uptick in non-food sales in the last quarter of 2013.
The winners this Christmas were those retailers with slick multichannel operations, who could offer consumers the flexibility to shop how, and when, they wanted to.
"One in five" non-food items bought this Christmas were purchased online, in what turned out to be a bumper year for festive internet sales, new figures have revealed.
Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed online trade represented 18.6% of total non-food sales in December, up from 16.5% the year before.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "More of us clicked into Christmas than ever before, with online non-food sales growth putting in its best performance since March 2010 and accounting for nearly 20% of spending.
"The surge in the use of tablets and smartphones last year, together with the ever-faster delivery times achieved by an increasing number of retailers, has provided a new spur of growth to online shopping."
British baker Greggs said as many as 400 jobs could be scrapped as in-store bakeries are closed and management teams are restructured, despite the fast-food chain's strong Christmas trading numbers.
The company said it would work with trade unions and vacancies would be offered to employees working at the in-store bakeries "wherever possible".
Greggs said the cuts would save £6m a year from the middle of next year and £2m this year after costs of £9m for redundancy payments andwrite-offs on in-store baking equipment.
The company said like-for-like sales grew 2.6% in its fiscal fourth quarter, with sales in the five week festive period up 3.1%.
Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King has told ITV News that the chain's popular toys range is "new competition" for businesses like Mothercare, whose shares fell 30% today.