Shoppers holding shopping bags

Warm welcome for big rebound in retail sales

Shoppers holding shopping bagsGETTY

BACK IN FASHION: Shoppers came in from the cold

Official figures showed sales volumes rebounding by 1.6 per cent from March, when they were down by 1.1 per cent owing to the freeze. This was well above the 0.7 per cent gain expected by economists.

Petrol sales led the way with 4.7 per cent growth compared with a 6.9 per cent decline in March, when road closures affected travel.

Excluding fuel, sales were up by 1.3 per cent as shoppers also bought more clothes, household goods and food, with only department stores in decline.

Goods bought in the three months to April rose 0.1 per cent after a fall of 0.4 per cent in the first quarter.

The recent rise in oil prices could lead inflation to be higher than expected in the near term at least and could hold back the improvement in consumer purchasing power.

Dr Howard Archer

The Office for National Statistics said the underlying position remained “subdued”.

Andrew Wishart, of Capital Economics, said conditions for a sustained recovery in consumer spending growth are in place, with healthy employment figures and real wages on the up.

Retail sales make up nearly a fifth of UK economic output.

But Dr Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, warned: “The recent rise in oil prices could lead inflation to be higher than expected in the near term at least and could hold back the improvement in consumer purchasing power.”

He said the Bank of England would need to see “sustained conclusive evidence that the economy is bouncing back significantly” from growth of just 0.1 per cent in the first quarter before contemplating an interest rate hike. Meanwhile, Kingfisher’s same- store sales fell 4per cent in the first quarter.

B&Q was down by 9 per cent, although Screw-fix sales grew by 3.6 per cent.

CEO Veronique Laury said: “It was a challenging start to the year with exceptionally harsh weather across Europe and weak UK consumer demand.

“Market conditions continue to be mixed, with the UK uncertain.”

Posted on; Express.co.uk>>

Check Also

A piece of paper with money next to it

Hard-pressed savers see another door slammed shut



Life got even tougher for savers last week after National Savings & investments slashed the maximum sums payable into some of its most popular products by an incredible 99 per cent. The treasury- backed savings specialist has hacked down the investment limit on its hugely popular guaranteed growth Bonds and guaranteed income Bonds from £1 million to just £10,000 per person, with immediate effect.