LONDON (Reuters) - Retail sales rose this month compared to a year ago at the slowest pace since September, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry showed on Tuesday.
The reported sales balance in CBI's monthly distributive trades survey dropped to +8 versus economists' forecasts of a dip to +16.
The expected sales balance for March fell to +9, also the weakest since September.
However, in the CBI's quarterly survey, the business situation balance rose to +12 - the strongest reading since August 2011.
"We all know trading is tough, and the bad weather hasn't exactly been encouraging shoppers to hit the high street lately," said Barry Williams, Asda Chief Merchandising Officer for Food and Chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.
"But there is a glimmer of hope for retailers, with the news that sales are growing, even if at a slower pace than in recent months... Shoppers (will) remain cautious for the foreseeable future," he added.
The latest official data showed that British retail sales unexpectedly fell in January, hurt by heavy snow, and sales between November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) and January posted their steepest fall compared to the previous three months since March 2010.
Still, some retailers are bucking the trend, with sales growing at discount clothing chain Primark and major retailer John Lewis, which caters to more affluent shoppers.
(Reporting by Clare Hutchison, writing by Olesya Dmitracova)