Early Easter helps lift retail sales out of the doldrums in March

 
Kasmira Jefford
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A PICK-UP in the grocery market together with the earlier timing of Easter this year helped boost retail sales in March.

Data out today from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show retail sales increased by 3.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis in March compared with the same month last year when they fell by 1.7 per cent.

Total food sales over the three months to the end of March rose by 1.8 per cent. This is the strongest growth by the grocery sector since July 2013, helped by Easter falling closer to March this year.

Non-food sales were up 3.7 per cent, boosted by Britons shopping for homeware and garden accessories over the Easter bank holiday.

“While the figures are inflated by the timing of Easter, they are still a welcome boost for retailers who have battled flat or falling like-for-like sales for the last quarter,” KPMG’s David McCorquodale said. “Signs of recovery were also seen in the grocers’ figures, who are mounting a slow but steady fight back.”

Separate data from Barclaycard today shows overall spending grew 3.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year, in a further sign of returning consumer confidence.

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