UK retail sales fell 2.3% in April, below estimates

People walk in the rain on London Bridge in central London, March 12, 2024.

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LONDON – Retail volumes in Britain fell 2.3% in April as wet weather deterred shoppers, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

Economists polled by Reuters expected a smaller decline of 0.4%.

“Sales volumes fell in most sectors, with clothing retailers, sports equipment, games and toy stores and furniture stores performing poorly due to the weather,” the ONS said. Bad weather reduces the number of visitors. March’s figure was revised down to a 0.2% decrease from unchanged.

Sales rose 0.7% in the three months to April compared with the previous three months after a weak December and holiday period, but fell 0.8% year-on-year.

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Kris Hamer, insights director at the British Retail Consortium, pointed to bright spots in the data for cosmetics and computer sales.

Hamer said: “As summer approaches and inflation rapidly approaches the Bank of England’s 2% target, retailers hope that consumer confidence will improve and spending will increase return”.

Consumer confidence improved in May across both personal finances and the outlook for the broader economy. survey was released by GfK on Friday.

“I think we will probably see inflation fall below the 2% target” in the UK, the economist said.

Headline inflation in the UK cool down to 2.3% in April from 3.2%, figures published on Wednesday showed. However, tepid underlying inflation and services have prompted markets to push back bets on the BOE’s first rate cut from June to August or September.

said Phil Monkhouse, UK country manager at financial services company Ebury surprise general election announced on July 4 this week could add “new uncertainty” to the minds of consumers already facing higher interest rates.

Monkhouse said: “Preparing for warmer weather, ensuring ready access to finance and putting in place hedging arrangements will be essential for retailers looking to weather any volatility about future sales”.


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