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Late Easter helps April retail sales

UK retail sales rose by 5.6% year-on-year in April on a like-for-like basis although the performance was distorted by the timing of Easter this year.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Late Easter helps April retail sales

UK retail sales rose by 5.6% year-on-year in April on a like-for-like basis although the performance was distorted by the timing of Easter this year.

The figures from the monthly BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that total sales increased by 6.3%.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “As expected, the Easter holidays provided the welcome boost to retail sales, which goes some way to making up for the disappointing start to the year. That said, the positive distortion from the timing of Easter was largely responsible for the month’s growth and looking to the longer-term signs of a slowdown, the outlook isn’t as rosy.”

Over the three months to April, food sales increased by 2.4% on a like-for-like basis and by 3.6% on a total basis.

Meanwhile, non-food retail sales edged up 0.3% on a like-for-like basis and by 0.7% on a total basis.

Dickinson added: “Taking a closer look at the sales figures, consumer spend on food and non-food items is diverging. Food categories continue to contribute the most weight to overall growth, although food inflation has a part to play in this. Meanwhile, consumers are being more cautious in their spending towards non-food products and focussing more on value priced lines.”

The BRC’s figures also show that online sales of non-food products in the UK grew by 10.3% in April versus a year earlier, when they fell by 6.6%. Online sales represented 21.6% of total non-food sales in the UK, against 21.1% in April 2016. On a three-month basis, penetration rate was 21.9%.

Over the three months to April, online sales of non-food products grew 8.2% year-on-year while in-store sales declined by 1.3%.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Easter holidays resulted in a surge of online toy sales to keep the kids entertained. Similarly, the additional free time seemingly prompted shoppers to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into home improvements, with furniture and homeware sales proving popular.

“The prominence of online retail is only set to continue, and critical to a retailer’s success will be their ability to effectively combine online and offline sales activities."

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