UK retail sales grew at a faster rate than expected in March, data from the Office for National Statistics showed on Thursday.

Retail sales grew 1.1 percent month-on-month in March, after a 0.6 percent rise in February. Sales rose to the highest in four months, when it was 1.5 percent. Economists had forecast a 0.4 percent decline.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales grew 1.2 percent monthly in March after a 0.4 percent rise in February. Economists were looking for a 0.3 percent decrease.

Food stores and non-store retailing were the largest contributors to the quantity bought in March.

Including auto fuel, retail sales rose 6.7 percent year-on-year following a 4.0 percent increase in February. Economists were looking for a 4.6 percent increase.

Retail sales, excluding auto fuel ,grew 6.2 percent year-on-year in March, after a 3.8 percent rise in the previous month. Economists had expected 4.0 percent growth.

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