New figures show that the volume of retail sales rose by 1.6% in November compared to October. This was the biggest monthly increase since March.

The Central Statistics Office figures show that annual retail sales fell by 0.8% in November compared to the same time last year.

The CSO figures reveal that sales of clothing, footwear and textiles rose by 7.2%, while furniture and lighting increased by 4.5% and electrical goods grew by 3.8% in the month. Sales of fuel, bar sales and sales of pharmaceuticals fell in November.

The CSO said that if motor trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales rose by 1.8% in November compared to October 2011, while there was an annual decrease of 0.8%. Motor trade sales rose by 2.7% in November.

The value of sales, which takes prices into account, was up 1.1% in November, but down 0.7% over 12 months.

Bloxham economist Alan McQuaid said the figures were better than in recent months. He suggested that news of plans for a two-point increase in VAT may have prompted some consumers to shop early. The economist said he still expected consumer spending to fall again in 2012, by between 1% and 1.5%.

Goodbody's Dermot O'Leary called the bounce "surprising", but said he did not see it as the start of a trend. He said the familiar problems of debt, austerity measures and a weak labour market would continue to affect spending in 2012.