British retail sales were broadly unchanged in February after falling in January but stores expected sales volumes to slip again in March as the rising cost of living eats away at disposable incomes.
The Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) monthly distributive trades index rose to +2 this month from -23 in January. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of -13.
But a measure of expected sales in the month ahead fell to -18 from -15.
"Whilst retail sales volumes were largely unchanged in the year to February and slightly above seasonal norms, firms remain pessimistic about their business outlook and are bracing themselves for yet another fall in sales next month," Martin Sartorius, CBI principal economist, said.
(Reporting by Suban Abdulla; Editing by William Schomberg)