Retail sales volumes in the UK rose by 1.2% in October, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday (20 November), the sixth consecutive month of increases.
The growth came in well ahead of consensus expectations, which were for sales to remain flat, with DIY and household furnishing stores benefiting from consumers' move to improve their living space.
Most sectors have rebounded to above their pre-Covid levels, with clothing and fuel the only areas languishing below February's reading.
The figures take into account the period before the current lockdown measures were introduced across England, in which non-essential stores were once more forced to close.
Capital Economics' Paul Dales said the numbers suggested the economy held up better than expected when the UK Government introduced tiered restrictions on regions, and that the move "did not change households' spending behaviour much".
Manager of the Premier Miton UK Growth fund Jon Hudson said retail spending had been "resilient" in October and expects online shopping, which at 6.4% registered its first month of growth since June, to "benefit from the current lockdown as consumers begin the festive spending".
"The bricks and mortar retailers [will be] desperately hoping consumers will be ready to spend the cash they've saved under lockdown conditions in December," Hudson added.
Dales, meanwhile, said he expected the second lockdown to prompt a fall in retail sales once more, despite the restrictions on shops being less onerous than during the first lockdown.
"Overall, the current lockdown means that retail sales may fall outright again in November… but the encouraging news on vaccines is improving the economic outlook for next year," Dales concluded.