UK retail sales values for last month were up 1.9% on a like-for-like basis from March 2012, when they had risen 1.3% on the preceding year according to the latest figures from the BRC.
The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for March showed that on a total basis, sales were up 3.7%, against a 3.6% rise in March 2012.
Growth is inflated by the timing of Easter, which fell in March this year but in April last year.
Adjusted for Shop Price Index inflation at 1.4% in March, total retail sales values grew 2.3% in real terms.
Online sales were up 6.6% compared with March 2012, when they had risen by 13.9%.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "This is a positive result, which rounds off a first quarter of cautious optimism for many retailers. Easter fell in March this year but April in 2012, which helps this year's figures, especially for items which tend to sell well over the long weekend like food and homewares. But even if we strip out the data for the last week of March, performances are encouraging, considering the weather impact."
"Snow and the prolonged cold were not ideal but not a disaster. They brought mixed fortunes for different categories. Food was boosted by a continued appetite for hearty meals and ‘wintry' fare such as roasts and chocolate. But demand was cool for new season clothing and footwear lines, resulting in a decline for both categories."
"2013 has got off to an encouraging start for the market as a whole. Retailers are now hoping for a boost in consumer confidence and the general mood to lift performance across all, not just some sectors, as we head into the second quarter. Getting a bit of sunshine, at long last, might help that along!"