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UK: Retail Sales Up, But Growth Rates Slow

The UK has seen a surge in retail sales for the year to March, but the pace of growth has slowed.

According to the UK’s Confederation of British Industry (CBI) latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey released Tuesday, March saw weaker than expected sales growth but retailers expect to see an uptick in April.

Barry Williams, Asda chief merchandising officer for food, and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel, said, “It’s promising to see a run of positive growth rates on the high street, with sales up on a year ago for the fourth month in a row. We’re hopeful that this will continue, but there are still signs that this needs to be a cautious hope.”

Williams said the slower growth rate could be due to the later timing of Mother’s Day and Easter this year but those upcoming holidays are what’s giving retailers higher hopes for sales in April.

Of the 106 surveyed, 36 percent said sales volumes were up over the same time last year and 23 percent reported being down for the year in terms of sales.

In March, clothing sales did see substantial growth of 27 percent, but still did not meet last month’s 33 percent.

As online sales continue to rise, Williams said it’s no surprise that Internet sales volumes were up 55 percent in March, the fastest pace in eleven months.

For April, retailers are expecting a robust 36 percent sales growth, the highest expected growth reported since December 2010.