The Office of National Statistics says the “unusual events” caused sales, excluding fuel, to rise 1.2% in the month compared to March. Sales were 2.7% higher than April last year.
The warmest April on record boosted sales of clothing and footwear by 2.2% year on year and food sales experienced the first growth in 15 months, increasing 1.4% year on year.
The non-store retailing sector, which includes online and mail order, increased 19.6% year on year. Online sales accounted for 9.3% of the total sales in April, valued at £535m.
The figures are expected to be much lower in May as consumers face a continued squeeze on disposable income because of rising inflation and patrol costs.
The British Retail Consortium says the ONS figures confirm the trends it highlighted in its Retail Sales Monitor earlier this month but must be treated with caution.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson says: “Before rushing to celebrate we need to recognise, much of April’s strong headline figure is down to one-off seasonal factors. May’s growth is likely to be lower and a more realistic indication of how customers, retailers and the wider economy are progressing.”