Bargain-hunting shoppers helped Britain's retailers defy expectations in January as high street sales rose at their fastest pace in eight months, even though the downturn accelerated and tens of thousands of people were made jobless every day.

The British Retail Consortium says today that retail sales values rose 3.2% last month compared to a year ago as cash-strapped consumers rushed to the shops to buy the best bargains in the sales. This was the best performance since May, when sunny weather boosted sales.

Food sales surged 6.8% in the year to January and while non-food purchases slipped 0.8%, the drop was still far lower than the decline seen in recent months.

The Guardian