UK retail

UK retail sales rose 1.1% in March, as milder weather encouraged shoppers to take to the high street.

Retail sales rose in March according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), despite an increasingly difficult trading environment for the high street in the last few months.

This proved ahead of economist expectations, who had forecast a contraction of 0.3% during the month.

Overall, quantity of retail sales in the three months to March increased by 1.6%, compared to the last quarter of 2018.

The growth suggests that shoppers had thus far not been deterred from spending despite persistent Brexit-related uncertainty.

The year-on-year rise in retail sales between March of last year this year was 6.7%, proving the highest increase since October 2016.

However, this figure proved particularly high due to unseasonably colder weather in March 2018, with the “Beast of the East” heavily impacting sales.

Head of retail sales at the ONS, Rhian Murphy, commented:

“Retail sales increased in the three months to March, following sustained growth throughout the first three months of the year. March’s mild weather boosted sales, with food shops also recovering after a weak February.”

Despite the stronger UK retail sales figures, the high street is still struggling amid falling footfall levels, rising costs and subdued spending.

2,481 stores closed in the UK in 2018, according to PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).