Sunny weather and holidays boost retail sales


Retail sales rose last month as consumers headed to the shops to enjoy the Easter holidays.

The fall in retail sales recorded in March has been reversed by April’s figures.

The Royal Wedding, extra bank holidays and the recent sunny weather boosted UK retail sales by over 5% last month, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The rise in sales follows the 3.5% fall recorded in March.

Consumers made more purchases over Easter with champagne and garden furniture in the most demand. Sales of footwear, summer clothing, food and drink also experienced a slight rise.

Stephen Robertson, the BRC’s director general, said: “These sales figures are a relief after the dire sales falls we saw in March, but are not the full picture. The underlying pressures on the retail sector of climbing costs and depressed consumer spending will be problems for many months to come”.

Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said: “As expected, the combination of a late Easter, dry and sunny weather, and the royal wedding feelgood factor, has provided a very welcome respite in a challenging retail trading environment. Most sectors showed a significant uplift on the prior year and on recent months, with food, drink, clothing and footwear leading the way”.

She added that the main focus now is to consider whether these figures indicate that retail sales have indeed turned a corner for the better. However, she explained that the chances of the long term downward trend reversing is still poor, which is why retailers are continuing to remain cautious.