Retail sales bounce back in January

UK retail sales rebounded in January after heavy snow caused a big drop in December sales, figures have shown.

The volume of retail sales in January rose 1.9 per cent on the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said.

December's monthly figure was also revised downwards to show a 1.4 per cent monthly drop – the biggest December fall since records began.

There was some anecdotal evidence that shoppers made major purchases before the VAT rise took effect on 4 January.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: "The strong rebound in January’s retail sales shows that the economy is recovering and spending is rising, despite the VAT increase at the beginning of the year.

"However, the downward revision in the December figure suggests that the impact of the severe weather last month was even worse than previously thought. In general terms, these figures support our view that GDP will show positive growth in the first quarter of 2011 after the decline in the last quarter."