Overall sales last month were up on those this time last year, as prices continued to fall, official figures for January showed.
The amount bought and spent grew year-on year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Retail sales for January rose by 5.2% compared to the same period last year, the 33rd consecutive month of growth, as shoppers splashed out £26.6 billion.
The outlook for department stores specifically is bright, the ONS analysis showed.
The organisation said: "Looking at the longer-term picture, department stores saw the 34th month of consecutive year-on-year growth which is the longest sustained period of growth within this store type since the economic downturn in 2008."
Some of the growth in January, with sales up 2.3% on December last year, could be down to the rollover from Christmas, the ONS suggested.
It said: "In the most recent period, feedback from department stores suggests that some of the growth seen in January 2016 can be attributed to sales of Christmas stocks and ongoing promotions."
Average store prices, including those in petrol stations, continued to fall, coming down 2.6% on the same period last year.
Customers are continuing to show their love of online shopping, as the value of web sales jumped by 10.4% from January 2015, and rose by 2.7% compared with December last year.