Retail sales bounce back in April thanks to sunny Easter
Good weather and Easter spending contributed to a rise in retail sales in April, following a short period of contraction in March.
Overall sales by value grew 7% year-on-year, and 1.9% on last month, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed.
The expectation-busting return to growth in UK consumer spending, combined with Trump’s firestorm, has caused the value of sterling to surge, reaching the $1.30 mark.
Value of sales at predominantly food-selling stores grew 4.3%, compared with the same period last year.
Fashion and clothing sales increased 7.5% year-on-year, and the amount spent on household goods rose 8.3%.
Sales by Volume
Retail sales by volume increased 4% in April compared with the same month last year, and by 2.3% on March.
Over the last three months, the quantity of items bought edged up 0.3%.
The ONS said anecdotal evidence from retailers suggests drier than average weather in April contributed to growth.
Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim said: “The latest data showed shoppers continued to shrug off any Brexit and political uncertainty with retail sales beating even the most optimistic expectations.
“Despite the surge in inflation and squeeze on households’ finances, consumers were out in force during the Easter break with the warm weather driving sales across the sector.”
Last month online sales surged 19% year-on-year – inching down from March’s 19.5% figure.
Online now accounts for approximately 15.6% of all retail spend, excluding automotive fuel, compared with 14% in April 2016.
Looking ahead, Lim said: “With inflation jumping to three-year highs we remain cautious as to whether consumers can keep up this impressive pace of spending.
“Real earnings are now shrinking and expected to remain in negative territory for the remainder of the year. Retailers will be hoping shoppers remain resilient in the face of further uncertainty.”
Lloyds Bank commercial banking head of retail Keith Richardson agreed that it’s too early to think that the tide is turning after a “dismal” first quarter.
“A rise in sales supported by Easter can’t hide the fact that inflationary pressures, together with sluggish wage growth, are biting a chunk out of shoppers’ disposable income,” he said.