UK retail sales increased in March driven by an early Easter, which boosted food and non-food sales ahead of the long weekend, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Total UK retail sales increased 3.5% year on year against a rise of 5.1% in March 2023. This was above the three-month average growth of 2.1% and the 12-month average of 2.9%.

Food sales grew 6.8% year on year over the three months to March as compared to a growth of 8.5% during the same time last year. This was below the 12-month average growth of 7.7%.

Non-food sales saw a decline of 1.9% in the three months to March and remained in decline year on year.

In-store non-food sales fell 1.1% on a total basis in the three months to March, while online non-food sales slipped 1.4% against a 2.1% decline in the same period last year.


BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: While retail sales growth improved last month, this was largely driven by Easter falling unusually early and the subsequent uplift to food sales in the week preceding the long weekend. Easter also boosted sales of non-food products such as cookware and tableware, as people readied themselves to host family and friends.

“Home textiles such as throws and pillows were also popular as consumers sought to spruce up their homes ahead of Spring. Elsewhere, wet weather dampened sales of garden furniture, BBQs, DIY products, and clothing and footwear.

“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.

“With a pro-growth policy landscape, retailers can step up their investment in innovation and local jobs and communities up and down the country.”