Retail sales down in April

UK retail sales volumes dropped by 2.3 per cent last month, according to the latest ONS data.

The figures come after a 0.2 per cent decline in the previous month, which was revised from an initially recorded zero per cent.

The ONS data shows that volumes fell across most sectors, with clothing retailers, sports equipment, games and toys stores, and furniture stores doing badly as poor weather reduced footfall.

More broadly, sales volumes rose by 0.7 per cent in the three months to April 2024 when compared with the previous three months, following a poor December 2023, and fell by 0.8 per cent when compared with the three months to April 2023.

 “Sales volumes saw significant decline in April, falling for the third time in five months as the gloomy, wet weather combined with the cost of living squeeze dampened spending,” said Kris Hamer, director of insight at the British Retail Consortium (BRC). “Cosmetics continued to sell well, and computer sales were boosted thanks to promotional activity and consumers upgrading their tech a few years after the pandemic surge in tech sales.

“Meanwhile, clothing and footwear and furniture failed to deliver due to the poor weather and consumers thinking twice before buying high ticket items."

Hamer went on to say that with summer nearing and inflation approaching the Bank of England's two per cent target, retailers are hopeful that consumer confidence and spending will improve.

Ahead of the general election, which is taking place on 4 July, he said that political parties should make sure their manifestos detail how they will support retail and the three million people it employs.

In March, UK retail sales volumes stagnated as department stores, food and non-store retail took a hit.

Department store sales were down by 3.8 per cent across the month, while food stores saw a decline of 0.7 per cent.

Non-store retail, which includes mainly online retailers but also other retail formats without a physical store presence like stalls and markets, saw a 1.5 per cent drop in sales over the four-week period.

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