Something to cheer about after unusually warm weather encouraged shoppers and drove up sales.
British Retail Consortium survey finds high-street spending rose 3.6% in March but says overall retail environment is 'difficult'.
Warm days in March gave British men the shopping bug, boosting high-street spending, while women seemed wary of parting with cash, shops selling clothes, footwear and outdoor leisurewear noted an increase in activity that contributed to a rise in sales of 3.6% compared with March 2011.
"The unusually warm weather in March brought some welcome sunshine into the lives of non-food retailers. The early signs of summer got people buying clothes and shoes for the new season. Gardening items and outdoor leisure also saw a lift," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.
The warm weather drove sales of salads, fruit, ice cream, cold meats and barbecue products, while Mother's Day helped sales of confectionery, gift food and sparkling wines, according to the report.
Mr Robertson cautioned, however, that overall the retail environment is still difficult. "People are still struggling to balance household budgets against expensive fuel and utilities. The warmth of March was a help but it will take more than a week of sunshine to transform retailers' fortunes," he said.