Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showing resilient retail sales in April have been blasted by the City for painting a rosier picture than that experienced on the high street.

Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George said the ONS figures, which reported retail sales had only fallen 0.2 per cent from March to April, did not reflect as significant a fall as expected. “The feedback from the high street has been that conditions, particularly in apparel, have been worse than portrayed in these figures,” he said.

Another analyst added: “The ONS figures look to be painting a brighter picture than that portrayed by other surveys, such as the BRC and CBI figures and, anecdotally, by retailers. Our City economists themselves are openly questioning them.”

According to the ONS, the total annual increase in retail sales fell from 4.7 per cent to 4.2 per cent in April. Sales volume between April and March for food stores fell 1 per cent. Sales volume for non-food stores rose 0.2 per cent.