Cold weather and sales promotions warmed UK sales last month, but cautious shoppers have been warned the discounts won't last up until Christmas.
According to the British Retail Consortium's retail sales report, total UK sales in November rose 0.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis from the same month last year.
Sales during November 2004 had seen a decline of 0.2 per cent.
But for the period between September and November, like-for-like sales were still 0.1 per cent down on the same three months last year.
November's gain was the first since March when an early Easter boosted sales.
Colder weather, together with widespread promotions and sales days, boosted clothing and footwear sales after several weak months. Food sales also showed stronger growth.
The prospect for big-ticket items, such as sofas and refrigerators, remained difficult with sales driven heavily by promotions.
However, Kevin Hawkins, director general of the BRC said shoppers should not expect sales to continue into the festive shopping period.
He said: "Cold weather helped clothing sales and promotions helped sustain the momentum on the high street.
"However, with customers still extremely value-conscious, reliance on discounting is still a key driver for many stores.
"Pre-Christmas discounting, however, is likely to be less than in previous years as most retailers have taken a cautious view of sales and are operating on lower stock levels than last year.
"So the message to consumers is - don't wait for last minute bargains."