British retail sales showed a strong growth in December last year, with small stores outperforming big ones, according to official figures released on Friday.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales jumped by 2.6 percent during December compared with the previous month, beating the previous predictions of economist at an increase of 0.3 percent.
The ONS said "in December 2013, the amount spent in the retail industry increased by 6.1 percent compared with December 2012 and by 2.6 percent compared with November 2013."
The average weekly spend in the retail industry in December last year was 8.8 billion pounds (14.5 billion U.S. dollars), compared with 8.5 billion pounds in the same period of 2012 and 7.5 billion pounds in the previous month.
The annual growth for the retail industry was up 5.3 percent in December year on year.
The ONS said small stores experienced higher growth year-on-year than large stores with the amount spent in small stores increasing by 8.1 percent compared with 2.6 percent in large ones.
Non-food stores provided the main contribution to the growth in the amount spent at small stores, it said.
Commenting on the figures, Capital Economics, an independent macroeconomc research company, said: "Christmas delivers cheer for retailers with December's hefty monthly growth in retail sales, the consumer recovery seems to be at full steam."
"The official data is somewhat at odds with the survey and anecdotal evidence."
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that annual growth in like-for-like sales values slowed from 0.6 percent in November to 0.4 percent, the second weakest figure in 2013. Meanwhile, several high profile retailers in Britain reported weak Christmas results.
Based on this, the research company did not believe that December's strength would translate into a strong fourth quarter, because of weakness in previous months.
It predicted that over the fourth quarter as a whole, retail sales were a mere 0.3 percent higher than in the third quarter.
"Spending on the high street will provide only a modest boost to economic growth in the final three months of the year," said the research company.
"Nonetheless, with non-retail spending strong, December's sales data provided further hope that Q4 should sustain the strong rate of GDP growth seen in Q2 and Q3. But it also points to a recovery that continues to display a distinct lack of balance," the Capital Economics stated.