Consumer confidence 'returning'
The sector enjoyed its best month since March 2010 and helped drive an overall 1.8% rise in like-for-like retail sales values in August, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The BRC said its latest figures demonstrated that confidence is "slowly but surely" returning to high streets, although today's figures are slightly weaker than the exceptional performance seen in July.
The total rise of 3.6% for last month, which includes changes in store space, was down slightly on the growth of 3.9% seen a month earlier.
He said: "It's a positive sign that consumers feel confident enough about the future to make large scale, non-essential investments in their homes.
"Whether or not these investments are being powered by finance or consumers dipping into their savings remains to be seen - a debt or savings-fuelled spending bubble, of course, would not be sustainable in the long term."
Back to school spending also boosted sales in August as shoppers stocked up on children's clothes and shoes in preparation for the beginning of a new term.
Non-food trading was well up against below par showings in August 2012, when shopping took second place to watching the Olympics.
Fewer distractions from sporting exploits this year meant there was more cooking and gardening, although this still failed to compensate for l ast year's stocking up on celebratory fare for the month of sport.
Retailers are now turning their attention to the all-important Christmas season.
Mr McCorquodale added: "If sales continue in this vein we should be optimistic that retailers will enjoy a reasonably healthy Christmas."
© 2013 Press Association