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The optimism heading into the gradual re-opening of the economy drove the UK retail spending into the positive territory in February, a survey conducted by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) trade body showed on Tuesday.

Key findings

“It’s a measure of overall retail spending at major retail chains rose by 1.0% in February compared with the same month last year, faster than the average growth rate of 0.6% in the past three months.”

“Over the three months to February, total food sales increased 7.9% but sales of non-food items fell by 5.5%.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at accountants KPMG which produces the survey with the BRC, noted: “Conditions will continue to be incredibly challenging as they face subdued demand, thinner margins and rising logistics costs, alongside the accelerated structural changes to the sector.”

Separately, a survey conducted by payment card firm Barclaycard revealed that confidence in the economy hit a 12-month high in February.

Consumer spending was 13.8% lower than a year before, similar to January’s plunge of around 16%, Barclaycard said.