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Retail sales volumes down 1.3% in April

Retail sales volumes fell by 1.3% in April compared to March as the cold weather in the month impacted sales of spring and summer ranges.

Compared to April 2012, sales volumes edged up by 0.5% with the amount spent in the retail sector increasing by 1.3%.

The Office for National Statistics said the main source of downwards pressure in the month came from the food sector where the quantity of goods bought decreased by 3.8% compared to April 2012, the lowest since June 2011. The amount spent decreased by 0.2%, which the ONS said was the largest contraction on record.

Feedback from large food store retailers suggested that the cold weather continued to impact sales of spring and summer ranges, with barbecue items and garden furniture hit particularly badly.

When compared to March 2013, the quantity of goods bought in April decreased by 1.3%, while the amount spent also decreased by 1.3%. Again, the largest source of downwards pressure came from the food sector, where, compared with March 2013, the quantity of goods bought decreased by 4.1%, which is the lowest since May 2011. Over the same period the amount spent in the food sector decreased by 3.5%.

The ONS said that the overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales remained high at 10% in April reflecting feedback from large retailers, which suggested that during the continued cold weather consumers purchased from online sites rather than in store.

Commenting on the figures, Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: "Although today’s numbers are down on a month on month basis, anecdotally, retailers say trading has improved in recent days.

"Retailers will also be taking some comfort from Mervyn King’s parting prediction that the UK economy is finally heading for a sustained, albeit modest, recovery after five years of gloom."

Source : Retail Bulletin

22 May 2013
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