Sales of food and drink soared in March but clothing sales dropped with shoppers showing little interest in Spring stock with the cold weather.

Sales results were still up on the previous year. The British Retail Consortium said that retail sales increased by 1.9% on a like-for-like basis last month from March 2012, when they rose 1.3% on the previous year. On a total basis, sales were up 3.7%, against a 3.6% rise in March 2012.

Clothing and footwear retailers experienced a ‘dismal’ month as shoppers left the new Spring ranges on the shelves, food retailers enjoyed a surge in trade due to shoppers’ continued appetite for hearty meals and ‘wintry’ fare such as roasts and chocolate.

Online sales were up 6.6% compared with March 2012, when they had risen by 13.9%.

Growth was inflated by the timing of Easter, which fell in March this year but in April last year.

Adjusted for Shop Price Index inflation at 1.4% in March, total retail sales values grew 2.3% in real terms.

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