Hopes that the worst of the recession has been and gone have been boosted by a 1.2 per cent monthly increase in UK shop sales throughout June.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the June rise, which follows a 0.9 per cent fall in May, was driven by an almost five per cent increase in sales of clothing, with consumers keen to snap up summer outfits in what was a scorching month.
The margin of improvement far outweighed experts' predictions, with economists predicting a jump of approximately 0.3 per cent.
Food stores also recorded sales increases, with figures improving by 0.7 per cent compared to May.
Quarterly figures also offered encouragement, with sales between April and June up by 0.7 per cent compared to the previous three month period. Food stores experienced the biggest jump, with sales expanding by 1.6 per cent.
Year on year comparisons saw the most marked increases, with total sales up by 2.9 per cent compared to June 2008. Food and clothing stores led the upturn with annual gains of 2.6 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively.
While the figures offer encouragement, consumers have been warned that with unemployment rising and lending stunted, the recovery is still likely to be drawn out and sluggish.
However, more hope will be taken from tomorrow's GDP figures, which are expected to show the rate of decline in the UK economy slowed substantially compared to the 2.4 per cent contraction between January and March.
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