Retail joy for smaller stores

New data suggests retail figures unexpectedly picked up in March — and small stores were among those to benefit the most, according to industry experts.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says sales volumes rose 0.2% in March compared with a month earlier. It also revealed that the volume of sales was up 1.3% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which allows for the fact that Easter fell in March last year.

Aileen Simkins from the ONS told the BBC that smaller shops were doing well at the moment, especially those in London selling souvenirs for the Royal Wedding.

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She also said toy stores and garden stores had performed strongly, aided by the good weather in March, which stimulated demand for outdoor products.

The ONS said that small stores did much better than larger stores, especially in the food sector where they gained 2.5% while supermarkets saw growth fall 4.1%.

Howard Archer from analyst firm IHS Global Insight, says smaller retailers could benefit from consumers looking to shop closer to home in a bid to save on fuel costs.

“There is some talk that the high cost of petrol is leading some people to cut back on driving to the out of town shopping centres and supermarkets and do more shopping locally,” he told the BBC.

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