Retail sales volume in the U.K. rose 0.2% month over month in July, following a revised 0.9% increase in June, the Office for National Statistics said.
The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for a contraction of 0.2%.
The increase was attributed to robust sales in nonstore retailing, which surged 6.9% to mark its largest monthly increase since May 2016.
"Anecdotal evidence suggests that there were a range of promotions in July 2019 from non-store retailers, which boosted sales," the ONS said.
Nonfood store sales fell 1.4% even as department stores rose for the first time this year with 1.6% growth.
Excluding automotive fuel, sales volume was up 0.2% in July. Compared to a year ago, retail sales climbed 3.3%.