Purchases of food and drink, clothing and footwear bolstered overall retail spending last month, more than offsetting declines in purchases of big-ticket items such as furniture, according to the latest survey from the British Retail Consortium.

The BRC sales monitor for March showed a rise in total sales of 0.6% from the level of 2008, although last year’s sales figures for the month included the Easter holiday, when consumer purchases typically rise.

Like-for-like sales – a measure that reflects the performance of individual shops more than demand in the economy as a whole – fell by 1.2% from March 2008. Non-food, non-store sales – a category that includes internet and phone sales – were up 10.8% from a year earlier although the pace of growth is slowing from the 30% rise in sales seen in December.

Financial Times