LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s retail sales were more than expected last month and volumes were the highest in the three months to April until mid-2021, according to official figures that showed consumption remained firm despite rising inflation.
Sales volumes in April fell 0.5% from March, when they fell 1.2%, as usual rain kept shoppers at home, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast volumes to rise 0.3% month-on-month.
In February-April, sales increased 0.8% over the previous three months, the largest increase since the three months until August 2021.
However, the volume of retail sales in April was 3.0% lower than a year earlier, a bigger drop than expected in a Reuters poll. Food sales fell 2.7% annually, a reminder of how much the crisis is affecting household spending, although the drop in food sales was less pronounced than in previous months.
“Sales have recovered from the seasonally affected March, and jewelry, sports retailers and retailers all had a good month,” said Grant Fitzner, ONS chief economist.
“Despite the persistence of high food prices, supermarkets have also recovered from the drop in March. But this trend is partly reflected in the amount of food sold, despite the fact that prices have also gone down.”
The rise in the purchasing power of British consumers has been affected. Although inflation slowed from 10.1% in April to 8.7%, according to data released earlier this week, the decline was smaller than expected.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Wednesday he feared inflation could prove “persistent” in the coming months.
(Writing: William Schomberg; edited by William James, edited in Spanish by José Muñoz)