Warmer weather and an improving housing market drove a better than expected retail sales rise in March, say official figures.
UK retail sales rose 0.1 per cent from February 2014.
Clothing sales rebounded to rise 7.1 per cent year-on-year, pointing toward the importance of good weather for the high-street. But food retailers continued to struggle and fell 2.3 per cent in March despite this week’s CBI survey reporting an Easter pick-up. Mothers Day boosted retail as shoppers spent an average of £16.50 on cards, wine, plants and bouquets, according to research from vouchercode site Savoo.co.uk.
Online sales rose 7 per cent, below IMRG’s prediction of a 17 per cent internet sales surge this year to £107bn. However, sales are expected to surge over Christmas which will bump up the overall figure. Online sales rose 12.4 per cent year-on-year last month.
Gerard Lane, of analysts Shore Capital said the outlook for the UK consumer was “robust” and said low inflation, rising working hours and higher pay is resulting in increased spending power for the consumer.
Richard Lowe, Head of Retail & Wholesale at Barclays, said optimistically: “Spring has sprung, the new summer fashion ranges are now in, and retailers will be expecting the brighter weather to continue to entice shoppers online and into stores.”