UK retail sales rise by 1.8 per cent in March

UK retail sales volumes rose 1.8 per cent last month, most likely aided by the warm weather and the timing of Easter. This follows the 0.8 per cent decline in February, which came as a possible result of “the squeeze felt by consumers.”

Natalie Berg, retail analyst at Planet Retail, said: “While the month of March certainly provided a nice boost for retailers, it’s not really an indication of a broader recovery.”

While economists have welcomed the figures, many remain vigilant for the year ahead. David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “While a positive GDP figure will help maintain business confidence, we mustn’t be complacent. Economic growth in the UK is still too weak and businesses must be empowered to drive the recovery –especially at a time when the public sector is shrinking.”

Ross Walker, economist at RBS, said: “It tells us that the consumer-facing side of the economy has had a reasonable first quarter, and will reinforce expectations that overall services growth will look okay in the first quarter.”

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