Retail sales have grown for the second consecutive month, and growth is expected to continue at a similar pace through Easter, according to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

The survey said 39% of retailers said sales volumes in March were higher when compared to the same period in 2009, and 26% said they were lower. The resulting balance of +13% is broadly in line with expectations (+16%) although slower than February, which was +23%.

Looking ahead to April, the survey found 14% of retailers expect sales will be higher than they were a year ago.

Grocers reported strong annual sales growth, while clothing, furniture and carpet retailers also continued to grow sales but much slower than in February. Hardware, china and DIY sales fell sharply again, though not as rapidly as last month.

Andy Clarke, chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel, and chief operating officer of Asda, said: “Despite not matching the strength seen in February, it’s encouraging that high street sales have continued to grow this month. The outlook for Easter may still be positive but, with a weak economy and pay freezes for many, consumers are likely to remain cautious for some time.

“While grocers continue to outperform relative to other parts of the high street and sales of some big-ticket household goods are still growing strongly, hardware and DIY sales continue to struggle. Conditions will stay tough on the high street for some time, and shoppers will be holding their breath for the budget.”