High levels of discounting on the high streets and a number of promotions on petrol helped drive retail sales in July.
Retail sales volumes rose 0.3% between June and July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, defying expectations of a 0.1% fall.
The figure for June was revised significantly higher to 0.8% from a previous estimate of 0.1% after additional information was received from retailers.
There was a surprise rise in retail sales in July and June's figures have been revised upwards.
The 0.3% rise in sales between June in July is welcome, but the underlying picture remains grim.