Official figures show that retail sales in Britain dropped sharply in March, as chilly weather kept shoppers at home.

The Office of National Statistics said Thursday that sales were down 0.7 percent from the previous month, more or less in line with market expectations.

Consumers experiencing the second-coldest March on record seemed uninterested in spring clothing, pushing volumes down 3.1 percent from a month earlier.

But a strong February meant sales for the quarter were up 0.4 compared to last year's equivalent 0.5 percent fall.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight says consumers are being squeezed anew by rising inflation.

However, he says it's not all doom and gloom, as employment remains "at an elevated level" and low mortgage interest rates potentially freeing up money for spending.