• March 2012 retail sales volumes: up 1.8% on the month, up 3.3% on the year
Commenting on the retail sales figures for March 2012, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “An increase in retail sales in March was expected after the recent temporary fall, but this rise was well above analysts’ predictions. We shouldn’t over analyse one month’s figures, but this news reinforces hopes that GDP will show positive growth in the first quarter, and that the UK avoided a technical recession. Erratic construction and manufacturing figures may mean the ONS announces a negative figure for Q1 next week, but given the positive messages coming from business surveys, it is important to keep this in context.
“While a positive GDP figure will help maintain business confidence, we mustn’t be complacent. Economic growth in the UK is still too weak and businesses must be empowered to drive the recovery – especially at a time when the public sector is shrinking. Reallocating priorities from within the spending envelope of Plan A towards more policies to boost growth should be a key aim for the government.”