Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a 4.4% rise in retail sales in March compared with a year earlier. The volume of sales rose 2.2% over the same period.
Non-store retailing was 14.9% higher than March 2009 and the internet now accounts for 6.9% of all retail sales.
The British Retail Consortium said the figures confirmed its own data showing that strong March sales growth was driven by Easter. BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The seasonally adjusted figures actually show growth slowed compared with February.
“But there was a big boost to sales caused by Easter falling a week earlier than last year, with the first half of the bank holiday weekend falling into March’s reporting period. Last year’s very weak performance also helped to flatter the annual comparison.”?Robertson added: “While customers are more confident than they were this time last year, the political and economic uncertainty surrounding the General Election is holding back underlying spending for now.”