The latest CBI figures show that the spring collections have been shifting more slowly as shoppers have had to endure prolonged winter weather. Sales of summery items, which generally go on display in February, have been less in demand with the freezing temperatures.
Just one year ago, John Lewis reported it was "too hot to shop" and customers were enjoying the seasonal weather.
Howard Archer, the chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, told the Independent: "Clothing and footwear saw particularly poor sales in March, as they may well have been held back by unseasonably cold weather." Sales volumes were also well below average for the time of year, said the CBI.
Richard Lowe, the head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said retailers, particularly in the North, will be "somewhat concerned" about the current cold snap's impact on sales of spring and summer ranges.
Retailers were generally positive about April's forecast.