UK retail sales grew at fastest rate for years in February

Man stacks shelves
Image caption The horsemeat scandal had little effect on food sales

UK retail sales grew at their fastest rate in more than three years in February, as the drier weather coaxed shoppers back out onto the High Street.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said like-for-like retail sales were up 2.7% on the previous year.

That is the fastest rate of like-for-like sales growth since December 2009, the group said.

It said customer demand for electrical goods was the "growth engine" of the High Street.

The latest data will allow retailers a sigh of relief, after recent reports suggested the UK might be on the brink of another recession.

'Switch buying'

Helen Dickinson, director-general of the BRC said, "February saw growth across all parts of retailing, with big-ticket goods and items for the home recovering particularly well."

Food sales were up by 1%, despite the horsemeat scandal which threatened to affect the big supermarkets.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of the food data provider IGD, said, "Although there was a lot of 'switch buying', such as a fall in frozen burger sales in favour of more ingredients to cook from scratch, the overall effect on food and drink sales was neutral."

The BRC figures contrasted with a recent CBI survey which reported that food stores suffered their worst performance for five years in February.

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