UK retail sales warmed by sunny weather in March

Sunbather in St James's Park, London March's surprisingly warm weather lifted sales of clothing and footwear

The warmer-than-usual weather in March boosted UK retail sales in the month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said.

Like-for-like sales values were up 1.3% on March 2011, with higher demand for clothing and footwear.

However, the BRC said that while sales had risen, it came after "exceptionally weak" trading in March last year.

And it said retailers still faced difficulties as consumers struggle with rising fuel and utilities bills.

"The unusually warm weather in March brought some welcome sunshine into the lives of non-food retailers," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.

"It's worth remembering the sales comparison is against the weakest month of last year, largely caused by the movement of Easter in the calendar, and we'll have to see whether this is additional spending or just shopping which has happened earlier than usual."

Separately, data showed that the number of customers who hit the High Street over the Easter weekend fell this year, as the rain put people off.

Footfall was down 12.5% compared with Easter 2011, according to research group Springboard.

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