UK retail sales edged up 2.5% on a like-for-like basis last month, according to the latest report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The increase was slightly less than the 2.6% increase recorded in December 2005, which had been the strongest growth of the year, and beat November's 0.5% increase.

Total sales were up 4.4% in December, beating November's 2.5% increase.

Both clothing and shoe sales have improved, reported BRC, thanks to some long-awaited colder weather in the days before Christmas. Sales of textiles were also better than previously.

Fashion retailers have generally been struggling to clear stock, blaming factors such as the unseasonably mild weather and a challenging market environment.

However, a handful of chains such as department store retailers Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have bucked the trend, posting strong sets of results.