Annual spending on food, beverages and tobacco increased by 4.8% in February across the UK, marking the largest annual upswing in 13 months, Visa Europe's report found.
Overall, consumers' spending grew by 2.2% on the year, with the sharpest increase recorded in the hotels, restaurants and bars sector, which recorded a 13.6% annual increase.
Compared with a year earlier, spending on recreation and c ulture, including cinemas and theme parks, was also up by 9.7%. Spending on household goods increased by 3.6% and spending on clothing and footwear lifted by 3.3%.
Kevin Jenkins, UK and Ireland managing d irector at Visa Europe, said: "February is always a key bounce-back month for retailers and 2016 has been no exception."
He said the hospitality and leisure sectors recorded a "stellar performance, as consumers treated loved ones to special dinners and romantic breaks on Valentine's Day, while families enjoyed trips out during half-term".
Mr Jenkins continued: "Valentine's Day falling on a Sunday this year also saw people spend more on food and drinks for a cosy night in, with the sector reporting the best performance since January 2015."
Visa's index, compiled by Markit, reflects overall UK consumer spending, not just that on cards.