Retail sales volumes in the UK jumped 5.4% in March from the previous month, as coronavirus restrictions began to ease. This is up from February’s 2.2% growth, and far stronger than the 1.5% gain expected by the City.
Figures just released by the Office for National Statistics showed that compared with March last year, sales were up 1.6%. However, over the three months to March, sales volumes fell 5.8% on the previous three months, due to the latest lockdown.
Ayush Ansal, chief investment officer at the London-based hedge fund, Crimson Black Capital, said: “Spending has been restricted for so long but March saw the chains finally come off.
“Stronger retail sales volumes in March, with clothing leading from the front, suggest people were preparing for post-lockdown life and things returning to a relative normal.
“For much of the past year, clothing has been an understandable drag on sales, as no nights out means there’s no need to buy new outfits and sitting on your sofa watching Netflix doesn’t result in wear and tear.
“Though things are looking up for now, we shouldn’t forget that Government support packages are still keeping millions of people in jobs and when that support is withdrawn non-essential retail could suffer.
“If unemployment starts to rise materially, the feel-good factor that is currently out there could evaporate very quickly.”