Retail sales in the UK rose 2.1 per cent last month after a steep fall of 8.2 per cent in January, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
However, sales were still down by 3.7 per cent compared to a year earlier, before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Food and mixed department stores benefitted from essential retailers remaining open, the ONS said, though clothing shops continued to struggle as they remained closed.
Outdoor furniture and DIY sales were strong as people stayed at home and as people prepared for lockdown easing, with gatherings in gardens allowed again in England and Northern Ireland next week.
Scotland and Wales have already eased rules for outdoor mixing.
Online sales continued to grow and hit a record 36.1 per cent of all UK sales.
Clothing retailers have been hit the worst over the past year, the ONS said, seeing a 50.4 per cent plunge in sales volumes when compared with February 2020, before the first Covid lockdown measures were introduced.
Fuel sales have also fallen sharply, down 26.5 per cent from a year earlier as travel restrictions continue to hit demand.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to allow groups of up to six people to meet in gardens from March 29. Non-essential retailers are expected to reopen on April 12.