Sales volumes at clothing stores leapt by 4.7% as part of a positive February spending trend, according to new figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics.

The clothing trade increase was the sector's highest growth since December 2002.

The country's overall underlying growth in retail sales volume remained robust and close to the long-run average in February after a weak January.

Total sales volume increased by 1.4% between January and February, the largest monthly increase since January 2005, led by clothing stores, household goods stores and 'other' non-food stores.

The volume of overall retail sales in the three months December to February was 1.1% higher than in the previous three months. Three-monthly growth in sales volume was 1.2% for non-food stores and 0.5% for food stores.

The highest three-monthly growth was for non-store retailing at 4.8%, mainly reflecting the continued strong growth by specialist Internet and mail order retailers.