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Retail sales volumes were flat in March, despite the boost from an early Easter, as sales in food stores fell.

Data released today by the Office for National Statistics found that retail sales volumes remained flat month on month in March following a small 0.1% uplift in February.

The ONS said retail performance was “mixed” during the month, with automotive fuel and non-food stores sales volumes rising by 3.2% and 0.5% respectively.

However, this was offset by falls in food stores and non-store retailers of 0.7% and 1.5%.

Over the first three months of the year, sales volumes increased by 1.9% compared with the previous three months. This was following low sales volumes over the Christmas period for retailers.

Volumes rose 0.8% over the year to March 2024, while remaining 1.2% below their pre-coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic level in February 2020.

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose in March 2024 to reach their highest index level since May 2022, with retailers reporting that this rise was linked to increased footfall on their forecourts.

Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 0.5% over the month, with increased footfall reported by some retailers.

However, department stores, food stores and non-store retailing sales volumes all fell over the month, with retailers suggesting increased prices were affecting consumer spending habits.

Morning update

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has dropped back 0.6% to 7,830.3pts.

Fallers so far include McBride, down 3.3% to 102p, SSP Group, down 2.4% to 196.5p and Naked Wines, down 2.1% to 54p.

Risers include Virgin Wines, up 4% to 49.9p, Greencore, up 1.1% to 131.2p and Coca-Cola HBC, up 0.8% to 2,429.5p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 gained a further 0.4% yesterday to close at 7,877.1pts having suffered heavy falls in Tuesday.

Deliveroo was up 4.5% at 126.6p after posting a strong start to the year, with orders up in the UK and internationally.

Risers included Just Eat, up 6.7% to 1,210p, PZ Cussons, up 3.9% to 88.2p, Glanbia, up 3.6% to €17.50, THG, up 3.1% to 60.8p and McBride, up 2.9% to 105.5p.

The days few fallers included Domino’s Pizza Group, down 0.4% to 321.2p and Kerry Group, down 0.3% to €79.70.