A late Easter has seen UK retail sales register their biggest monthly increase in 11 years, according to one closely-watched measure.
The British Retail Consortium-KPMG retail sales monitor rose 5.6 per cent in April from a year earlier, up from a 1 per cent decline in March and well ahead of expectations for a 0.5 per cent gain.
This was the strongest result since April 2006.
BRC noted that the performance was distorted by the timing of Easter this year.
Over the three months to April, food sales were up by 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, while non-food retail rose by 0.3 per cent. Online sales of non-food products were up by 8.2 per cent over the same period, while in-store sales fell 1.3 per cent.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC said:
Shop prices are still down overall although other items of consumer spending are increasing headline inflation and hence driving a tightening of purse strings. Although today’s figures do indicate that consumers are still willing to spend, with a cocktail of rising costs and slowing wage growth as the backdrop, conditions for consumers will get tougher. The next Government needs to deliver a plan that puts consumers first in its economic policies and the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, said:
April’s sales provided a brief period of respite for retailers following a relentless start to the year. However, much of the rise was driven by the timing of Easter and the growing inflationary pressures the sector is facing, rather than a sudden upswing in consumer confidence.