April 20 2012.

- Value of retail sales in March 2012 increased by 5.7 per cent when compared with March 2011.

- Sales volumes in March 2012 increased by 3.3 per cent when compared with March 2011.

- Sales volumes growth was driven by other stores, non-store retailing and predominantly automotive fuel.

- The year-on-year implied price deflator in March 2012 rose to 2.5 per cent from 2.4 per cent in February 2012.

- Internet sales values (non-seasonally adjusted) in March 2012 increased by 15.2 per cent compared with March 2011.

- Internet sales are now estimated to account for 8.5 per cent of all retail sales values excluding automotive fuel.

Commenting on the retail sales figures for March 2012, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "An increase in retail sales in March was expected after the recent temporary fall, but this rise was well above analysts' predictions. We shouldn't over analyse one month's figures, but this news reinforces hopes that GDP will show positive growth in the first quarter, and that the UK avoided a technical recession. Erratic construction and manufacturing figures may mean the ONS announces a negative figure for Q1 next week, but given the positive messages coming from business surveys, it is important to keep this in context.

"While a positive GDP figure will help maintain business confidence, we mustn't be complacent. Economic growth in the UK is still too weak and businesses must be empowered to drive the recovery - especially at a time when the public sector is shrinking. Reallocating priorities from within the spending envelope of Plan A towards more policies to boost growth should be a key aim for the government."