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Retail sales growth 'fell off a cliff' in April, new report says

PUBLISHED: 08:42 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:42 09 May 2018

There have been turbulent times on the high street with some retailers struggling amid challenging conditions. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

There have been turbulent times on the high street with some retailers struggling amid challenging conditions. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Retail sales growth fell "off a cliff" in April, a new report claims.

The BRC (British Retail Consortium)-KPMG retail sales monitor for the month said UK retail sales decreased by 4.2% compared with April 2017 on a like-for-like basis.

On a total basis, sales declined by 3.1% year-on-year – the sharpest fall recorded in the monitor’s 23-year history.

But the report said the figures have been affected by the timing of Easter this year, with shoppers mostly stocking up in March.

Paul Martin, head of retail, KPMG, said: “April’s figures show retail sales growth falling off a cliff, with sales down 3.1% on last year, but we must exercise caution and remember that the timing of Easter makes meaningful month-on-month comparisons difficult.”

April had seen “all seasons rolled into one”, he said, from a wet Easter to warm and sunny spells.

He added: “Fashion sales received a much-needed boost, but otherwise the sales were disappointing for the rest of the high street.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The first glimpse of summer may have temporarily lifted clothing and footwear, but non-food sales overall continue to be weak.

“Consumers’ discretionary spending power remains under pressure and the reality is, that with only a gradual return to solid growth in real incomes expected, the market environment is likely to remain extremely challenging for most retailers.”

Meanwhile, separate data from Barclaycard found consumer spending increased by 3.4% year-on-year in April.

Paul Lockstone, managing director at Barclaycard, said: “The UK seems to be caught in a holding pattern, with people still budgeting carefully.”

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