Bouyant January sales figures reported in most countries of the European Union (EU) were particularly noteworthy this year because food, drink and tobacco purchases were healthier than non-food goods, the usual target of post-Christmas sales.

EU statistical agency Eurostat said that January EU-wide sales of food, drink and tobacco were more robust (up 2.2% from December's typically high demand), compared with an increase of 1.1% for non-food products.

Across all sectors, the EU's retail trade has picked up compared with 2003, with a 2.2% increase showing a market improvement over weaker pre-Christmas sales, where a 0.4% rise was recorded.