© Reuters. FILE PHOTO-People shop on Oxford Street in London, Britain April 10, 2023. REUTERS/Anna Gordon
LONDON (Reuters) -British retail sales rose by more than expected last month and volumes over the three months to April grew by the most since mid-2021, according to official figures that showed resilience in consumer spending despite the surge in inflation.
Sales volumes in April rose by 0.5% from March when they fell by 1.2% as unusually heavy rain kept shoppers at home, the Office for National Statistics said ON Friday.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that volumes would rise by 0.3% on the month.
In the February-to-April period, sales were up by 0.8% from the previous three months, the biggest such increase since the three months to August 2021.
However, retail sales volumes in April were 3.0% lower than a year earlier, a bigger fall than forecast in the Reuters poll. Food sales were down by an annual 2.7%, a reminder of how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting household spending although the food sales fall was less sharp than in previous months.
“Retail sales grew, partially rebounding from a poor weather affected March, with jewellers, sports retailers and department stores all having a good month,” ONS Chief Economist Grant Fitzner said.
“Despite continued high food prices, supermarkets also recovered from the fall in March. However, these were partly offset by a drop in the amount of fuel sold, despite prices also dropping.”
Britain’s surge in inflation has hit the spending power of consumers in Britain. Although the pace of price growth slowed to 8.7% in April from 10.1% in March, according to data published earlier this week, the fall was smaller than expected.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Wednesday that he feared inflation could prove “sticky and stubborn” in the months ahead.
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