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High street bounces back

Retail sales rose at their fastest rate for more than two years in February, official data has revealed.According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), sales on the high street were up 1.4 per cent between January and last month.The news is welcome relief to retailers, who experienced a 1.8 per cent new year sales slump in the first month of 2007."There were robust increases in February for the three sectors that showed large falls in January, that is, clothing stores, household goods stores and 'other' non-food stores," the ONS said in a statement."The largest increased occurred in clothing stores at 4.7 per cent, the highest growth for this sector since December 2002."On an unadjusted basis, the total value of retail sales in the three months to February was 4.4 per cent higher than during the same period last year.Commenting on the figures, Global Insight economist Howard Archer said: "The recent sharp swings in retail sales highlight just how volatile the data can be around Christmas and early in the new year."

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