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 throughout the month, knowledge from the ONS reveals, following a fall of 1.8 per cent in March, when a very wet begin to spring deterred consumers.

As grocery inflation stays at file 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 under 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 throughout the month, following a 1.4 per cent fall in March.

The figures present the impression of inflation, which is presently sat at 8.7 per cent, on Brits spending habits. In comparison 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 government at New West Finish Firm, stated: “After a difficult few months, it’s constructive 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 larger.”

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

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

“General, the trajectory stays constructive, with the very best quarterly enchancment in retail gross sales volumes since August 2021. This echoes the most recent measures of shopper sentiment, which has been bettering repeatedly since final Autumn,” a notice 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 constructive momentum to proceed within the quick time period. Nonetheless retailers will likely be hoping that the present inexperienced shoots should not dampened by increased rates of interest or different macroeconomic challenges over the summer season.”

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