Howard Archer, chief economist for Britain at HIS Global Insight, said the Office of National Statistics report was "excellent news," The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
Consumer spending was also up 3.3 percent on an annual basis, helped significantly by a 4.9-percent climb in spending on fuel.
Archer warned consumer price inflation was "proving sticky at 3.5 percent in March," which could slow spending.
Price growth outpaced growth in personal earnings, which rose 1.2 percent in February on an annual basis.
That put "the squeeze on purchasing power," Archer said.
Retail analyst Philip Shaw at Investec said, "There does seem to have been a step upwards in the underlying growth of high street activity over the past few months, which suggests the consumer malaise which prevailed through much of 2011 may be over and done with."
Swim Week Miami Beach 2014 [PHOTOS]