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March retail sales trounce forecasts thanks to early Easter spending

Published 09/04/2024, 08:01
March retail sales trounce forecasts thanks to early Easter spending

Proactive Investors - Retail sales in the UK spiked 3.2% year-on-year in March, marking the strongest month since last August and smashing the 1.8% forecast.

Early Easter sales helped drive food sales ahead of the long weekend, with analysts also suggesting a rebound in spending points to easing cost-of-living pressures.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, said: “After a difficult start to the year, retailers are hopeful that with warmer weather around the corner, consumer confidence will spring back up.

“A strong retail industry can boost investment across our towns and cities, and as we gear up for a general election, it is essential the next government recognises this and rethinks the burdensome costs imposed on retailers.”

Non-food sales dragged due to wet weather, and analysts also warned of an April retraction.

Rob Wood, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic, said: “We expect the BRC measure of retail sales growth to drop back in April as the boost to year-over-year growth from the early Easter turns into a drag.

“It’s not unusual for year-over-year growth to drop 2-3 percentage points between March and April when Easter falls in March as it did this year.”

Barclaycard data, also released today, recorded a 1.9% year-over-year gain in sales in March, “which is probably a better reflection of the underlying trend than the jump in the BRC”, said Wood.

Read more on Proactive Investors UK

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