UK retail sales in March rose by just under 7% despite economists forecasting that they would fall.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the unexpected year-on-year growth of 6.7% was the highest since October 2016.
According to the group, the milder weather, which was in stark contrast to 2018’s ‘Beast from the East’, was part responsible for the growth.
Meanwhile, monthly sales in retail increased by just over 1%, but department stores took a 0.3% hit during the month.
Philipp Gutzwiller, head of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The third consecutive month of increasing sales is exactly what retailers need as they head from a mixed Christmas sales period into an important Easter one.
“With consumers keeping a closer eye on the value of the money at their disposal, those who succeed in the coming months will be those willing to identify new ways to create worthwhile customer experiences or reward loyalty, and put that at the heart of the strategy they invest in.”
This time last year, a large chunk of the UK’s mobility retail network ground to a halt after three days of persistent and heavy snow, which forced many businesses to reluctantly close their stores and take vans off the road.