Sales growth slowed in March but retailers expect Mother’s Day and Easter to give April sales a boost.
The CBI Distributive Trades Survey recorded the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year growth in March but retailers said sales growth weakened in March “to a greater extent than expected”.
This was due to supermarket sales growing at the slowest rate in four months combined with falling sales across non-specialised stores, such as department stores.
Clothing sales grew “substantially” but slower than in February.
Retailers forecast sales in April to rebound back to the highs recorded in February, which was the strongest growth rate since the financial crisis, due to the later timing of Mother’s Day and Easter.
Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel and Asda chief merchandising officer for food Barry Williams said: “The pace of growth has slowed, likely in part down to the later timing of Mother’s Day and Easter this year – conversely, this is the same reason many retailers are looking forward to more robust growth next month.”
Barclays head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said: “Retail sales continue to show growth year-on-year, which is a positive sign in spite of the slower rate of growth on last month.
“However, this is not surprising given the combination of the wet weather and consumers tightening their belts after Christmas and the January sales. Looking ahead, retailers will be focusing on the changing of the seasons and hoping to entice shoppers with their new Spring/Summer ranges and the indications are for a strong rebound next month.”