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British Retail Sales in April Exceed Expectations Despite Rising Inflation

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released data on UK retail sales in April, revealing stronger-than-expected growth and indicating robust consumer spending. This comes as a positive sign, despite the backdrop of rising inflation.

According to the ONS, retail sales in April showed a month-on-month increase of 0.5%, surpassing the 1.2% decline witnessed in March. The slight downturn in March can be attributed to increased rainfall, which deterred people from venturing out to shop. Reuters had predicted a more modest growth of 0.3% for April, making the actual figure even more encouraging.

Looking at the broader trend, retail sales in the three months leading up to April experienced the most substantial expansion since mid-2021, rising by 0.8%. This marks a significant improvement compared to the previous three-month period. The ONS noted that this growth was particularly noteworthy, reflecting a rebound from the adverse impact of poor weather conditions in March. Jewelers, sporting goods retailers, and department stores were among the sectors that experienced improved sales performance during this period.

In terms of year-on-year comparisons, British retail sales in April recorded a decline of 3.0%. While this figure remains negative, it represents a smaller decrease compared to March’s 3.9% drop. However, it fell slightly short of analysts’ expectations of a 2.8% decrease.

Grant Fitzner, the Chief Economist at the ONS, commented on the findings, stating, “Retail sales rebounded, partly recovering from the impact of adverse weather conditions in March. Jewelers, sporting goods retailers, and department stores all reported better sales performance this month.”

The positive retail sales figures come amidst concerns over inflation in the UK, which hit 8.7% in April, surpassing the target level fourfold. The high inflation rate highlights the challenges faced by consumers as they contend with rising prices for goods and services.

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