Retail sales edged up in March compared with the previous month, official figures have shown, beating forecasts.
Sales volumes were 0.1% higher in March than in February. Analysts had expected sales to drop because of the Easter holidays falling in April this year.
Volumes in March were up 4.2% compared with a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The cold weather a year ago was a key factor in the year-on-year rise, the ONS said.
Non-food stores showed the biggest year-on-year rise in sales since April 2002, up 9.6%.
The ONS said this was helped considerably by the comparison with March 2013 which was the second coldest March on record. This year the weather was much warmer, leading to more people heading out to the shops.