High Street enjoyed a record 2014

Christmas shoppers in Oxford Street, London.

Christmas shoppers in Oxford Street, London. - Credit: PA

The UK high street has enjoyed a record year with retail sales forecast to reach around £342 billion, according to Government estimates.

The enormous popularity of new events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have contributed to the £48 billion increase since 2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said.

Smaller firms have also contributed with their own record turnover of £72 billion.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “The return of the high street is fantastic news and goes to show that we are on course for prosperity.

“The rise of independent retailers is testament to the wave of entrepreneurialism sweeping the UK as part of our strong economic recovery.”

Retail Minister Nick Boles said: “High streets have cause for celebration after a bumper year of sales. It’s particularly pleasing to see independent shops doing so well.

“We are determined to help them thrive and look forward to 2015, which I want to make an even more successful year for Britain’s retailers.”

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Chancellor George Osborne cheered British industry by announcing a review of business rates in the Autumn Statement under moves to boost the economy and create jobs.

The Government will publish its interim findings from the review in December next year, setting out how it will respond to business calls for clearer billing and a more efficient appeal system.

The Chancellor also extended the doubling of small business rate relief to April 2016, so 385,000 small firms will continue to receive 100% relief from business rates until then.

British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: “With the meteoric rise of internet shopping - £1 in every £5 spent on non-food items is now spent online - barriers to entry in retailing are lower than ever.

“Established retailers are also doing well and the crucial shopping period in the run up to Christmas, including Black Friday, saw total sales up 2.2% compared with November last year.

“We’re delighted that the Government has decided to back British retailing by committing to review the business rates system.”

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores said: “We are delighted that the Chancellor has listened to our concerns on business rates by committing to a full review.

“Local shops will welcome the 2% cap on rates increases and the extension of the higher threshold for small business rate relief, alongside the increased £1,500 rates discount for shops on the high street.”