Retail sales increased by 3.2% in March on a like-for-like basis compared to the same month last year. On a total basis sales were up by 4.7%.
Figures published in the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that total food sales experienced their strongest growth since July 2013, growing by 1.8% in the three months to March although they were helped by the Easter distortion. On a like-for-like basis food sales edged down 0.4%.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Signs of recovery were also seen in the grocers’ figures, who are mounting a slow but steady fight back. However price deflation continues to dog the sector, and while supermarkets may be selling more, they are peddling hard to stand still. Demand is definitely pushing in the right direction, but there is a long way to go before like for like food sales are back in positive territory.”
Meanwhile, non-food sales grew by 2.7% on a like for-like basis and by 3.7% on total basis in the three months to March. The BRC said there was a marked increase in sales across home categories including furniture and household appliances, but fashion sales were more subdued.
While online sales of non-food products grew by 12.3% in March year-on-year, they contributed 1.4 percentage points to the growth of non-food total sales in the month.
Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “People hit the high street in March as the three month average showed that brick and mortar stores have contributed more to growth than online sales - the first time since August 2014.
“All-in-all, retailers can also be satisfied with the consumer response to their Mother’s Day and Easter offerings, but it is important to note that April figures will be impacted by the absence of Easter this year.”