UK retail sales rose in March due to consumers shopping for Mother’s Day.

Customer shopping for mother's day cards

Last-minute Mother’s Day shopping contributed to a sales increase in March

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor shows total retail sales increased by 5.1% in March, compared to 3.1% in March 2022.

This was above the three-month average growth of 4.8% and the annual average growth of 2.6%.

Like-for-like sales rose 4.9% in March, versus a decline of 0.4% in March 2022. This was above the three-month average growth of 4.6% and the yearly average growth of 2.1%.

Food sales jumped 8.5% over the three months to March on both a total and like-for-like basis, resulting in above annual total average growth of 5.8%.

Non-food sales saw an uptick of 1.8% on a total basis and on a like-for-like basis over the three months to March, surpassing the yearly total average decline of 0.1%.

Total in-store non-food sales increased 5.2% on a total basis and 4.6% on a like-for-like basis, making it above the yearly average growth of 3.7%.

Online non-food sales decreased by 2.1%, against a decline of 29.0% in March 2022. This was above the three-month average decline of 3.0% and the annual decline of 5.2%.

The penetration rate of non-food items bought online slipped down year on year to 38.4% from 40.7%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “While the wettest March in over forty years dampened sales growth for fashion, gardening and DIY products, Mother’s Day brightened up sales for the month. Stores were given an extra boost, as last-minute shoppers dashed to their local high streets and shopping centres to purchase jewellery, fragrances and flowers.”

“With consumer confidence edging up and big events on the horizon such as the King’s coronation, retailers have reasons for a spring in their step. However, extensive cost pressures on business remain and the government must ensure it minimises incoming regulatory burdens. Unless these future costs are brought to a heel, we will likely see high inflation continue for UK consumers who already face rising household bills from this month.”

KPMG UK head of retail Paul Martin added: “Many retailers will have been disappointed with overall sales growth of just 5% in March, against a backdrop of rising inflation running at more than 10%.

“High street retailers saw some limited growth across most categories in March but as consumers cut back on eating out, spending on home comforts, accessories and furniture saw the biggest growth with people looking to entertain at home instead. Online retailers also benefited from the boost in sales of home items but saw continued decline in sales across most other categories, particularly clothing.

“As the difficult economic conditions continue, retailers will be hoping that April prompts consumers to look for some comfort in Easter treats and the sun starts to shine, forcing replenishment of summer wardrobes.”

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