Clothing and footwear sales rose 2.8% by value and 5.4% by volume in March.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the value of retail sales across all sectors rose by 4.4% in March and 2.2% in volume.
In year-on-year terms, the value of sales was up 0.9% and the volume of sales was up 0.4%.
Commenting on the figures, Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate said: “Following a volatile start to the year, March’s figures offer hope that a more stable landscape is emerging in the retail sector, with retail sales volumes up both month on month and year on year, broadly in line with expectations.
“Retailers will be keeping a close eye on consumer confidence following its recent reported dip. However, at present sales are not declining with confidence levels, despite rising unemployment and increasing inflationary pressure on household incomes. As the nation prepares to go to the polls, retailers will be hoping for the extension of various economic stimulus measures currently in place, particularly the historically low base rate.”
British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said:”This confirms the strong retail sales growth seen in March was mainly caused by the distorting effect of Easter. The seasonally adjusted figures actually show growth slowed compared with February.
“There was a big boost to food sales caused by Easter falling a week earlier than last year, with the first half of the Bank Holiday weekend falling into this March’s reporting period. Last year’s very weak performance also helped to flatter the annual comparison.
“Our own figures show most of the sales growth was in the week leading up to Easter. While customers are more confident than they were this time last year, the political and economic uncertainty surrounding the election is holding back underlying spending for now.”