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March mild weather boosts shopping figures

Tom Bottomley
18 April 2019

An unexpected spike in retail sales in March has just been revealed by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), with year-on-year growth at 6.7%, the highest since October 2016.

Monthly sales rose 1.1% despite economists expecting a fall. The warm weather, however, was in sharp contrast to March 2018 and the dreaded "Beast from the East", which blunted early spring sales.

Responding to today’s ONS retail sales figures, Anne Alexandre, RSM manager at the British Retail Consortium, said: “We welcome the improving sales figures, however these numbers may not tell the whole story, as Easter distortions are notoriously hard to seasonally adjust. It is clear that retail is going through a tough year, with increasing store closures and job losses.”

The freshly released figures also indicate that department stores were the only type of stores to report a fall in sales compared with the previous year, compounded by a 0.3% decline in March.

Alexandre added: “Unless the government want to see more closures on the high streets, and more jobs lost, they must act by reforming Britain’s broken business rates system.”

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