As UK retailers brought forward their seasonal discount sales to match the early summer heatwave, shoppers responded in their droves, boosting June retail sales by 1.3% to their highest level in eighteen months.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that sales were 0.7% higher for the second quarter than in the first three months of the year, the best quarter-on-quarter rise since November 2004.

Compared with the same period in 2004, however, sales suffered their lowest annual growth rate, 1.6%, since February 1999.

As sales of sportswear and summer fashions soared in line with rising temperatures, clothing topped the retail sector growth increase, up by 3.5%.

All retail sectors enjoyed a sales increase in June, but household goods sales remained lower than a year ago, perhaps reflecting the sluggish housing market.

"The data should ease fears that the UK consumer sector has fallen off of the edge of a cliff" opined Gavin Redknap at Standard Chartered Bank, although analysts maintain an August interest rate cut by the Bank of England is still on the cards.

Data sourced from: BBC online; additional content by WARC staff