Warm spell helps lift retail sales
Friday 20 April 2012
Panic buying of petrol and unseasonably warm weather lifted retail sales figures for March today.
Volumes rose 1.8% between February and March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, which was the strongest rise for more than a year and well ahead of City expectations.
Fears of a tanker drivers' strike caused people to stock up on petrol, driving a 4.9% increase in sales at fuel stores, the highest March rise since records began in 1996.
Meanwhile, garden centres and clothes retailers were given a boost by the heatwave in the month.
The rebound in sales comes after a 0.8% decline in February and will fuel hopes that figures released next week will show the economy dodged a return to recession in the first three months of 2012.
Samuel Tombs, an economist at Capital Economics, said: "March's surge in retail sales suggests that consumer spending remains surprisingly resilient and increases the chances that the overall economy grew in the first quarter.
"Nonetheless, with wages continuing to fall in real terms, firms remaining reluctant to hire and a new wave of austerity hitting consumers in April, the foundations for a sustainable recovery in retail spending still seem to be absent."
Fuel sales, which account for some 10% of retail business, are expected to suffer in April as the panic buying brought sales forward.
Although fuel was a key driver of the rise in sales, all sectors apart from food stores enjoyed volume growth in the month. Excluding fuel, volumes were still 1.5% higher than in February.
Clothes and footwear stores saw sales volumes rise 2.3% as consumers updated their wardrobes with summer ranges, while household goods stores, which have been badly hit in recent months, enjoyed a 0.9% rise amid evidence of people buying more carpets and DIY goods.
But supermarkets saw volumes decline 0.3% as shoppers made cutbacks after average prices rose 4.4%.
Internet sales showed more strong growth, with a 1.8% rise in volumes, which means they now account for 8.5% of all sales.
Overall, the volume of sales was up 3.3% compared to the previous March, while the amount of money spent rose 5.7% to £32.6 billion, reflecting inflation.
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...