UK retail sales decreased by 1% in March compared to the same period last year, according to a report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.
However, while non-food retail experienced a decline of 0.8% in the period from January to March 2017, food sales increased by 1.2%.
"Food sales continue to outperform non-food sales as shoppers focus their spending on essential items," said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC.
"This marginal growth in food was bolstered by slightly higher shop prices following increases in global food commodity costs and a weaker pound."
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, added that this growth is "largely being driven by rising inflation, so no reason for too much celebration".
Many retailers are attributing these sales figures to the timing of Easter this year, and expect sales to increase in April.
“It’s always difficult to interpret the food retail figures for March because of the shifting Easter week," said Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of the Institute of Grocery Distribution.
"Easter is the second-biggest peak in the year for food shopping and just as at Christmas, online is playing a growing part. 43% of shoppers say they have bought some of their groceries online in the last month, while 60% intend to shop online for groceries over the next three years.”
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.