UK retail sales value in December was up by 1.7 per cent on the same month of last year, with this rise enabled by strong trading in the days immediately before Christmas, a survey shows.

However, publishing its latest monthly sales monitor in conjunction with accountancy firm KPMG today, the British Retail Consortium flags challenges for the sector this year in terms of delivering sales growth as inflation rises and economic and political uncertainty persists.

Richard Lim, chief executive of independent research consultancy Retail Economics, said: “In truth, most retailers will be quietly pleased with the performance given the bleak outlook cast over consumers in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.”

He added: “Nevertheless, this is likely to be as good as it gets for a while. With [annual consumer prices index] inflation forecast to hit three per cent and the labour market already showing signs of weakening, real wages are expected to shrink this year.

“What’s more, our research showed Brexit is the biggest concern for shoppers heading into 2017, while lack of savings and a weaker economy follow closely. A turbulent year ahead should be expected.”

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The challenge for retailers in 2017 will be to create real growth against a backdrop of growing inflationary pressures and persisting economic and political uncertainty.”

The BRC highlighted the strength last month of food sales. It noted non-food sales had, overall, been “sluggish”.