The British Retail Consortium has released its figures for March, which show that the UK market experienced a total sales growth of 6.6 per cent, while like for like sales grew by 4.4 per cent from the same period last year.
The association was keen to point out, however, that most of these gains were due to the Easter period falling in March and warned that – for non-food items – consumer caution spurred by ongoing economic uncertainty favoured essentials and replacements over discretionary items.
“The timing of the majority of Easter spending, falling into the March 2010 period but in April last year, has boosted this month’s figures and makes year-on-year comparisons difficult, said KPMG’s head of retail Helen Dickinson.
“Without this uplift a gloomier picture would have emerged – concern about the future continues to weigh on consumers’ minds and the outlook for spending remains uncertain. Retailers are fighting hard to encourage shoppers and offer value, which has slowed the rise in shop prices over the month, but how long they will be able to sustain this, given the pressure on margins, is debatable.”