The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed the value of retail sales last month increased by 5.7%, compared March 2011.

The ONS’ Retail Sales Index reported sales for the month grew from February by 1.8%, whilst sales volumes for March 2012 rose by 3.3% year-on-year. The ONS believes the increases were driven by sales predominantly at automotive fuel stores, including petrol forecourt sales at supermarkets. 

Year-on-year sales values at food stores, which accounts for 41.7% of all UK retailing, was up 3.7% for March, whilst volumes declined by 0.6%. Estimated average weekly sales accumulated to £2.7bn, of which, 3.1% of sales (£82.6m) were made via the internet.

The Retail Sales Index is derived from a monthly survey of 5,000 businesses in Great Britain, with the sample representing the whole retail sector including all large retailers and a representative panel of smaller businesses. Collectively all of these businesses cover approximately 95% of the retail sector’s turnover.