Retail sales growth defies expectations in March

Retail sales volumes remained stable in March, beating expectations of growth slowing, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey.

Of the 63 retailers surveyed, 17% said sales volumes rose this month, whilst 16% said they were down, giving a steady balance of +1%.

Sales growth for the time of the year was considered to be at an average level and 31% of retailers indicated that they expect them to pick up next month.

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The volume of internet sales held broadly steady in the year to March and growth is set to pick up slightly in April.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of Economics said: “It’s encouraging to see that sales are holding up and expectations have picked up further. Retailers are still face challenging global conditions but will welcome the Chancellor’s Budget reforms to business rates, making it easier for them to operate on the high street.

“Continued low levels of inflation and more jobs will continue to boost household spending, also giving a helping hand to firms.”

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