Sales in November were up 1.6% on the same time a year ago despite rising inflation and stagnant wage growth, the Office for National Statistics figures show.
Black Friday discounts encouraged British consumers to increase their spending on the high street and online, despite the most protracted squeeze on household income in memory.
Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The surge in retail sales in November does not signal broader consumer strength".
The data is likely to appease Central Bank of England, which for the first time raised interest rates over more than a decade last month.
"The risk from inflation to real spending growth has been exaggerated".
Excluding fuel sales, retail sales grew 1.2% month-on-month, compared with forecasts for a 0.4% gain and with the upwardly revised 0.4% gain recorded last month.
On an annual basis, retail sales grew 1.3%, surging past expectations calling for a 0.3% gain.
Household electrical appliances led growth in sales, partly due to reduced prices during the Black Friday sales.
"The official data are failing to fully adjust for the new seasonal pattern generated by Black Friday, which only gained traction in the United Kingdom three years ago", he said.
During the last three months overall, which smooths volatility compared to just one month, the picture is not good.
The ONS added the underlying pattern in the retail industry remained one of growth, with retail sales increasing 0.8% in the quarter through to October, compared with the previous three months.
Retail sales have returned to steady growth since a sharp slow down earlier this year as higher inflation began to kick in. The ONS data showed the volume of food purchased was 0.1 percent lower than a year before, while spending on food was up by 3.5 percent.
"Household goods stores had a good November, with a number of businesses saying that Black Friday promotions boosted sales".
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said after a disappointing October, it was good to see retail sales picking up again in November.
But home furnishings company Carpetright cut forecasts after warning of fragile consumer confidence.