Rain hits retail sales in April

Sales fell at the quickest rate in more than two years in April as rain dampened consumer spending, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

High Street

Sales volumes fell 2.3% in April, coming after a 2% rise in March. April’s figures compare to particularly strong figures last year when April was boosted by good weather and an additional bank holiday to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

Retail sales were also impacted by a sharp fall in petrol sales. Fuel sales fell 13.2% during the month following a spike in sales in March when consumers panic bought petrol in anticipation of a strike.

Excluding fuel, sales fell 1.1% in April, down on analysts’ expectations of a 1% rise.

Retail sales values rose by 0.4% compared with a year ago, the slowest rate of growth since January 2010.

Matt Piner, analyst at retail consultancy Conlumino, says: “Further out the picture is ominous once more. There is undoubtedly some pain to come from the eurozone turmoil, a significant amount of planned spending cuts are yet to even take effect and for the majority, money is set to remain tight at best. In summary, a return to a more stable footing still appears some way off.

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