Retail sales rose 3 per cent in value year on year during April and 2.6 per cent by volume, ONS data showed.
The monthly Retail Sales Index, compiled under changed methodology designed to better reflect high street conditions, revealed food volumes rose 1.5 per cent – the biggest increase in since May last year – and non-food stores volumes rose 2.8 per cent.
Textiles, clothing and footwear retailers recorded the biggest rise among non-food retailers and volumes were up 11.9 per cent. Department stores followed with a six per cent rise, but household goods sales plunged eight per cent. Non-store retailing and repair climbed 9.1 per cent.
On a three-month basis, the seasonally adjusted sales volume rise of 0.7 per cent was the smallest since January 1996.
Strategic retail adviser to Deloitte Richard Hyman said: “The expectation was for growth in April given the weak comparables with last year, Easter falling in April this year and the fine weather conditions enjoyed by most parts of the UK.
“However, there needs to remain a degree of scepticism about such positivity. There are pockets of optimism but sustained recovery for the industry as a whole is still some way off.
“I have seen nothing since the turn of the year to dissuade me of the view that UK retail is looking at a fall inn total retail spend of around three per cent through 2009.”