There's one part of the UK economy that has struggled more than most since the financial crisis.

And that's the High Street.

Squeezed consumers had reined in their spending as much as they could. But are we at a turning point for retailers?

Two household names that have suffered badly are Marks & Spencer and Mothercare.

However, department store M&S said that its general merchandise sales – that's clothing and homeware – are growing again after ten consecutive quarterly declines.

And shares in parenting retailer Mothercare surged after it posted a trading update that suggested its well-documented troubles in the UK were finally easing.

Official figures show that retail sales were rising again in the first quarter of 2014.

And the wider economy is healing again, with several leading forecasters – including the IMF – upgrading their outlooks for the whole year.

This improvement has loosened the squeeze on consumer incomes.

Inflation is slowing and wages are rising more quickly.

By the beginning of 2015, the real terms fall in UK incomes should have ended – which can only be a good thing for retailers.

Things may finally be looking brighter for the High Street when it comes to consumer spending.

They've lost much ground because of heavy discounting to attract in hard-pressed customers.

And physical stores are coming under ever-intensifying pressure from the internet.

But there is at least some imminent respite from the pain of the recent past.