Early Easter gives positive sales boost

Early Easter gives positive sales boost

An early Easter this year meant an uplift in food sales ahead of the long weekend, resulting in food sales increasing 6.8% year-on-year over the three months to March.

After a two-year low in February, total sales increased by 3.5% in March, ahead of the 2.1% three-month average growth, and above the 12-month average of 2.9%.

Non-food sales decreased 1.9% year-on-year over the three months to March, against a growth of 1.8% in March 2023.

As Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium outlined, the early Easter also boosted sales of products such as cookware and tableware.

“After a difficult start to the year, retailers are hopeful that with warmer weather around the corner, consumer confidence will spring back up,” said Ms Dickinson.

“A strong retail industry can boost investment across our towns and cities, and as we gear up for a general election, it is essential the next government recognises this and rethinks the burdensome costs imposed on retailers.”

UK Head of Consumer Markets, Leisure & Retail at KPMG, Linda Ellett added Easter showed “green shoots of spring for retailers in March” however she also urged caution.

“As April signals big increases in the sector’s cost base – through the rise in minimum wage rates and business rate hikes for the larger high street brands – retailers will be hoping that the bounce back of March sales is more than just an Easter blip,” said Ms Ellett.

“Economic indicators are heading in the right direction with inflationary pressures easing and interest rates having potentially peaked, however consumer confidence remains fragile, and households continue to keep a close eye on where their tight budgets are being spent.”

Sarah Bradbury CEO at IGD said the UK grocery market benefited from Easter falling in March this year.

“This has led to very positive comparisons with spending increasing on March 2023, and importantly significant volume growth,” said Ms Bradbury.

“This marks the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year volume growth, offering hope to retailers and suppliers of finally being able to regrow margins that have shrunk during the cost-of-living crisis.

“At a total level, shoppers have a growing confidence in their financial outlook, however the strength of this growth varies by household income. For lower income households, confidence is growing at a slower rate despite news of an almost 10% increase to the National Living Wage.

“For all shoppers, we expect the cautious approach to continue as cost-of-living challenges remain.”