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, information 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 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.

Nevertheless volumes have 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 purchasing 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. When put next with their pre-coronavirus degree in February 2020, complete retail gross sales have been 16.5 per cent greater in worth phrases, however volumes have 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 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 1000’s of worldwide vacationers. With inflation hitting home spending energy, the significance of worldwide guests has by no means been larger.”

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

Evaluation by PwC prompt that the “constructive momentum” was welcome however may very well be thrown off by rising rates of interest.

“General, the trajectory stays constructive, with the perfect quarterly enchancment in retail gross sales volumes since August 2021. This echoes the most recent measures of shopper sentiment, which has been bettering constantly since final Autumn,” a be aware circulated this morning stated.

“With this month’s gross sales more likely to be helped by the Coronation and extra financial institution holidays, we anticipate the constructive momentum to proceed within the brief time period. Nevertheless retailers shall be hoping that the present inexperienced shoots will not be dampened by greater rates of interest or different macroeconomic challenges over the summer season.”

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