Retail sales up in April but analysts warn on implications of further rate hikes

Retail gross sales volumes recovered barely by 0.5 per cent in April because the sector was lifted by the Easter holidays, nonetheless excessive inflation and strains on family funds proceed to hinder spending.

Non-food shops gross sales volumes rose by 1.0 per cent through the month, knowledge from the ONS exhibits, following a fall of 1.8 per cent in March, when a very wet begin to spring deterred buyers.

As grocery inflation stays at document highs of circa 17.1 per cent, meals shops gross sales volumes rose by 0.7 per cent in April 2023, following a fall of 0.8 per cent in March 2023.

Nonetheless volumes had been 2.7 per cent beneath their pre-coronavirus February 2020 ranges, as households proceed to spend cautiously when doing their weekly store.

Furthermore, on-line buying rose 0.2 per cent through the month, following a 1.4 per cent fall in March.

The figures present the impression of inflation, which is at present sat at 8.7 per cent, on Brits spending habits. Compared with their pre-coronavirus stage in February 2020, whole retail gross sales had been 16.5 per cent increased in worth phrases, however volumes had been 0.8 per cent decrease – because the nation will get much less for what they pay for.

Dee Corsi, chief govt at New West Finish Firm, stated: “After a difficult few months, it’s optimistic to see that retail gross sales are up 0.5 per cent from final month.

“April spend was undoubtedly boosted by the Coronation weekend, seeing the arrival of hundreds of worldwide vacationers. With inflation hitting home spending energy, the significance of worldwide guests has by no means been higher.”

She added: “Nonetheless, as we glance in the direction of the historically busy Summer season buying and selling interval, we’re involved that the UK is on track to overlook out on important financial progress being seen in different European international locations which aren’t hamstrung by the vacationer tax. Figures as we speak additionally masks the probability of dropping out on future Chinese language spenders, who’re but to return in numbers.”

Evaluation by PwC advised that the “optimistic momentum” was welcome however could possibly be thrown off by rising rates of interest.

“General, the trajectory stays optimistic, with one of the best quarterly enchancment in retail gross sales volumes since August 2021. This echoes the most recent measures of client sentiment, which has been bettering repeatedly since final Autumn,” a word circulated this morning stated.

“With this month’s gross sales prone to be helped by the Coronation and extra financial institution holidays, we count on the optimistic momentum to proceed within the brief time period. Nonetheless retailers might be hoping that the present inexperienced shoots will not be dampened by increased rates of interest or different macroeconomic challenges over the summer season.”

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