An early Easter and the bad weather that came with it left UK retailers suffering a second successive month of falling sales in March, official figures suggest.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the quantities bought in the retail industry last month decreased by 1.3% on February, on the back of a 0.4% decrease the previous month.

Year-on-year sales registered a 2.7% increase, down from 3.8% the previous month.

The ONS said average store prices, including petrol stations, fell by 3% in March, the 21st consecutive month of year-on-year decreases.

The amount spent in the retail industry decreased by 0.1% compared with March last year, and by 1.3% compared with February this year.

The value of online sales increased by 8.9% on a year ago but decreased by 0.5% compared with February.

Managing Director of the retail sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking Keith Richardson said: "Not even the combination of an early Easter and Mother's Day could shelter retailers from Storm Katie and the headwinds of slowing consumer spending, resulting in a second successive month of falling sales.

"The four-day Easter weekend normally brings with it bumper sales of food, spring fashion and plenty of DIY and gardening goods as families use the extra days off to spruce up their homes.

"Not only did Easter come too early for people looking to refresh their spring wardrobes, but it also coincided with bad weather sweeping across much of the UK, dampening any enthusiasm for gardening equipment."