Britons bought more this February than in the same month last year, with sales beating expectations.

Sales were up 0.7% compared to the previous month and were 5.7% higher than February 2014, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It was the 23<sup>rd consecutive month that retail sales have risen.

It is the longest period of sustained growth in the UK retail sector since the global financial crisis struck in 2008.

Prices fell for the eighth consecutive month, the ONS said. Average store prices fell by 3.6% compared to the same month in the previous year.

The British Chamber of Commerce welcomed the latest figures but warned that the UK's economic recovery was unbalanced.

"These strong retail figures point to an acceleration in economic growth in the first quarter of this year," said Chief Economist David Kern.

"Although these figures are good news and will strengthen confidence, we must remember that the UK's economic growth remains unbalanced and is too reliant on consumer spending," he added.