U.K. retail sales picked up in March after growth nearly halted in February, Distributive Trades survey from the Confederation of British Industry showed Thursday.

The retail sales balance rose to 18 percent from 1 percent in February. Nonetheless, it was below expectations of 27 percent.

Retailers expect sales to continue rising next month. A balance of 21 percent forecast sales to growth, although it was the lowest since last July.

“The outlook ahead is looking bright, with household incomes buoyed by zero inflation and improving pay packets, which will continue to encourage spending,” Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director for Economics, said.

“However, the retail sector isn’t in the clear yet, with some companies, especially food retailers, still feeling the heat from stiff price competition.”

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