The Office for National Statistics said the hot weather had boosted sales at garden stores and toy stores, while smaller shops were also performing well; particularly those selling (surprise, surprise) royal wedding memorabilia. The launch of Apple's iPad 2 and the Nintendo 3DS also helped lift sales at computer stores.
Still, the growth came as a surprise to analysts. A string of companies have been releasing results that missed profit expectations: in fact, just this week, Tesco fell short of analyst expectations, predicting a challenging year ahead. There was also a very bleak survey from the British Retail Consortium last week, which suggested retail sales for March were down 1.9% on the same time last year. So this surprising growth will at least inject a bit of cheer into the British retail sector.