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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
UK shoppers hit six-year record
Person mowing lawn
Gardening was a popular activity this Easter
The UK's retail sales recorded their strongest growth in six years during March, according to the latest figures.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said like-for-like sales rose by 7.5% compared to the previous year, the biggest rise seen since 1996.

A March Easter and vibrant shopping during the holiday weekend helped buoy the numbers.

The figures are likely to prompt inflation worries and encourage the Bank of England to raise interest rates again.

UK interest rates currently stand at 4%, the lowest rate for 38 years.

Job creation

The BRC said that strong consumer spending was allowing retailers to create jobs and make substantial investments.

And it warned against any tinkering with taxes to try and suppress inflation.

"It would be disastrous for the chancellor to take too much consumer demand out of the economy and threaten such a powerful driver of growth," said the BRC's director general Bill Moyes.

Confident consumer spending - in spite of the troubles facing the manufacturing sector - has been one of the UK economy's bright spots over the past year.

DIY enthusiasm

The DIY and gardening sectors recorded the strongest growth, as home-owners undertook some improvements during the break.

Decoration, garden furniture and picnic hampers were especially popular amongst shoppers.

And the BRC noted that the strong sales had stopped stores from cutting-prices sharply in their mid-season sales.

The BRC represents 90% of British retailers.

See also:

17 Jan 02 | Business
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17 Jan 02 | Business
Boots says sales 'not satisfactory'
13 Dec 01 | Business
Sales growth jumps to 13-year high
15 Feb 02 | Business
UK economy fails pizza test
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