Home improvement goods fare well as consumers keep spending
U.K. retail sales rose in March at the fastest rate in 11 months as Britons spent money on food, clothing, and garden and outdoor home-improvement goods, the British Retail Consortium reported in its latest Retail Sales Monitor.
Sales at stores rose 3.9% on 2006, compared with an increase of 3.3% in February. The survey, which covers the five weeks through March 31, suggests that homeowners are keeping up spending despite recent interest-rate increases.
Mild weather gave outdoor diy and gardening a good boost. The early spring led to gains in all areas of gardencare, landscaping, bedding plants, seeds, tools and supplies. Trade building, outdoor paint, and maintenance also began earlier than usual, and indoor decor held up while heating suffered.
Home accessories once again showed good growth, though not as strong as in February. Sales continued to vary across stores and sectors. New modern ranges did well but more traditional lines suffered. House textiles were weaker than in February, falling back below year-earlier levels.
Furniture and Carpets
Overall sales showed marginal growth, the best performance since last August. Bedroom and lounge furniture, sofas and storage were the brighter spots. Fitted kitchens and bathrooms were slower after the January promotions and before the seasonal Spring/Easter boost. There was some early interest in garden furniture.