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Mild weather boosts retail sales as shoppers brush aside Brexit woes

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Thursday 18 Apr 2019

Mild weather boosts retail sales as shoppers brush aside Brexit woes

(Sharecast News) - UK retail sales unexpectedly rose in March, boosted by mild weather and despite the looming Brexit deadline, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday.
Retail sales were up 1.1% on the month compared to a revised 0.6% increase the month before and expectations of a 0.3% decline.

On the year, meanwhile, retail sales surged 6.7% in March following a 4% rise the month before. This was ahead of expectations for a 4.6% jump and marked the highest since October 2016. The ONS said milder weather this year helped to boost sales in comparison to last year, when they were dented by the impact of the 'Beast from the East'.

Over the first quarter, retail sales were up 1.6%, marking the biggest increase since August 2018.

Head of Retail Sales Rhian Murphy said: "Retail sales increased in the three months to March, following sustained growth throughout the first three months of the year. March's mild weather boosted sales, with food shops also recovering after a weak February.

"Over the longer term, department stores were the only shop type to see their sales shrink."

ING said it was worth treating these latest figures with a touch of caution.

"Easter falls later this year, which might typically be associated with lower sales during March relative to other years. Similar data from the British Retail Consortium also suggested that spending was more muted during March, aside from some increased purchases related to Mother's Day. The latest surge in retail spending also comes at a time where consumer confidence is around the lowest it has been since 2013," said analyst James Smith.

Meanwhile, Ranko Berich, head of market analysis at Monex Europe, said: "The lack of market reaction to the news highlights the extent to which Brexit is still the only story in town for sterling."

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