Recent figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have shown that UK retail sales were up 1.3 per cent last month, compared to March 2011.
Online sales of non-food items also showed growth, although this was against a weak figure in March 2011, with sales up 13.9 per cent on a year ago.
Stephen Robertson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: “The unusually warm weather in March brought some welcome sunshine into the lives of non-food retailers. The early signs of summer got people buying clothes and shoes for the new season. Gardening items and outdoor leisure also saw a lift.
“It’s worth remembering the sales comparison is against the weakest month of last year, largely caused by the movement of Easter in the calendar, and we’ll have to see whether this is additional spending or just shopping which has happened earlier than usual.
“The overall retail environment is still difficult. Discounting remains a key tactic for retailers trying to encourage consumers to spend, particularly on big indoor items. People are still struggling to balance household budgets against expensive fuel and utilities. The warmth of March was a help but it will take more than a week of sunshine to transform retailers’ fortunes.”