Modest rise for retail sales in March

Retail sales values grew 1.9% on a like-for-like basis last month, new statistics have revealed.

On a total basis, sales rose 3.7% in March, according to the latest figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. The data also showed that online sales were up 6.6% compared with March 2012.

British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: “This is a positive result, which rounds off a first quarter of cautious optimism for many retailers. Easter fell in March this year but April in 2012, which helps this year’s figures, especially for items which tend to sell well over the long weekend like food and homewares. But even if we strip out the data for the last week of March, performances are encouraging, considering the weather impact.

“2013 has got off to an encouraging start for the market as a whole. Retailers are now hoping for a boost in consumer confidence and the general mood to lift performance across all, not just some sectors, as we head into the second quarter. Getting a bit of sunshine, at long last, might help that along.”

KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale added: “The early Easter this year certainly boosted the March sales figures.There was also a welcome rise in house-related spending over the Easter break.

“Easter distortions aside, the three-month average figures paint a positive picture and show the highest like-for-like sales increases since December 2009. On the back of strong January and February results, this may be the beginning of a positive trend and will be welcomed by many retailers.”

For Electricals, Mother’s Day helped lift sales of small appliances such as food processors, while baking proved a popular indoors activity for those keen to avoid the freezing weather. Home Accessories sales were also helped by promotional activity around Mother’s Day and by the timing of Easter. Themed table decorations did well, together with kitchen accessories and cutlery. The category achieved its best performance since last April.

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