Published on 20 - April - 2012
March sees household goods sales boost, but BCC warns retail is still in troubleSunny weather helped give sales volume of household goods a like-for-like boost of 2.5% this March, according to the Office for National Statistics, with the value of sales rising by 2% - the largest increase since January 2011.
Unseasonably warm weather encouraged retail spending in March, said the ONS
The estimated average weekly sales for household goods were £0.6billion, of this 5.9% of transactions were made via the internet, amounting to £33.4m.
Overall retail sales volume for the last three months were up 0.8% on the previous quarter, and up 1.8% for March, confirming the CBI's positive report earlier this spring.
Analysts said the uplift was largely driven by warm weather, which helped boost sales of products such as gardening tools. But British Chamber of Commerce chief economist David Kern warned retailers not to get carried away by the positive figures.
"An increase in retail sales in March was expected after the recent temporary fall, but this rise was well above analysts' predictions," he said.
"We shouldn't over analyse one month's figures, but this news reinforces hopes that GDP will show positive growth in the first quarter, and that the UK avoided a technical recession. Erratic construction and manufacturing figures may mean the ONS announces a negative figure for Q1 next week, but given the positive messages coming from business surveys, it is important to keep this in context.
"While a positive GDP figure will help maintain business confidence, we mustn't be complacent. Economic growth in the UK is still too weak and businesses must be empowered to drive the recovery - especially at a time when the public sector is shrinking. Reallocating priorities from within the spending envelope of Plan A towards more policies to boost growth should be a key aim for the government."
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