Extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales saw a shopping surge for department stores, which raked in an almost 11 per cent increase in sales on the previous year, official figures suggest.
The bumper sales moved from a one-day event, helping to spread spending over November and December last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Overall sales last month were up 2.6 per cent compared to December 2014, but down by 1 per cent on November.
Shoppers continued to take advantage of web-based deals, with online shopping accounting for around one in every £8 of retail spending last month, not counting fuel sales.
The average weekly spend online was £837.2 million – and while the value of online sales was down 5.2 per cent on November, it grew by 8.2 per cent year-on-year.
Mild weather in December accounted for a 4.2 per cent fall in clothing and footwear sales, the ONS said.
Retailers including Next, Marks & Spencer and Sports Direct have all blamed an unseasonably mild start to winter for poor trading over the festive season.
The amount spent in the retail industry fell by 1 per cent compared to December 2014, and by 1.4 per cent against November last year.
The ONS said: “We have seen a slightly different spending pattern in department stores in 2015 where higher year-on-year growth has been reported in December 2015 compared with December 2014.
“This suggests that the pattern of spending has changed between 2014 and 2015 as department stores moved from a one-day ‘Black Friday’ event to week-long events including ‘Cyber Monday’ and therefore spending was more spread out over the two months.”
Consumers, including motorists, benefited from price reductions, as average store prices fell by 3.2 per cent, the 18th consecutive month of year-on-year price falls.