Retail sales in the UK rose by both value and volume in March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Data from the government organisation shows that, excluding petrol, the value and volume of sales grew 2.9 per cent and 0.9 per cent year-on-year, despite recent figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) painting an entirely different picture.
The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for March suggested that annual sales for the month dropped further than they ever had in the 16 years since it began recording the figures, but ONS’s results tell a different story.
According to today’s statement, non-food sales were up by volume on the same month last year but food sales fell slightly.
“Within predominantly non-food stores, the largest rise was in other stores which rose by 8.2 per cent,” it added.
“Non-specialised stores rose by 5.5 per cent. Household goods stores fell by 7.7 per cent. Textile, clothing & footwear stores fell by 1.9 per cent over the period.”
Sales for the non-store retailing sector, which includes goods purchased online and via channels such as catalogues and TV, were 13.1 per cent higher than a year ago.
Part of the reason for the difference in results is that the ONS’s data is seasonally adjusted but the BRC’s is not.
Retail Analyst at Arden Partners Nick Bubb told Retail Gazette that scaremongering about March’s figures “is silly” due to the fact the traditionally busy Easter weekend falls in April this year.
He added: “It will not be until early May until things settle down. We will then be able to make more sense of the life-for-like retail sales figures, which won’t be skewed by uneven seasonal comparisons.”