ONS: UK retail sales rise 0.1% in March


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.”