Total sales rose 3.7 per cent in March compared with a year earlier, down from 4.4 per cent growth in February, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG released this morning.
In like-for-like terms sales rose 1.9 per cent against March 2012.
Easter falling a month earlier this year helped bolster purchases of food as well as homewares.
But the cold weather led to a slump in new season clothing and footwear sales. Analysts warned Marks & Spencer could reveal a quarterly fall in clothing sales of up to six per cent on Thursday.