UK retail sales took a dip in April as “dismal weather and disappointing sales led to a depressing start to spring for retailers”, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Total UK retail sales decreased 4.0% year on year, compared to a rise of 5.1% in April 2023. This was below the three-month average of 0.5% growth and the 12-month average of 2.2%.

When correcting for the distortion created by the earlier timing of Easter and the resulting boost in sales in March, the average growth for March and April together was 0.2%.

Food sales grew 4.4% year on year over the three months to April, compared to 9.8% during the same period last year. This was below the 12-month average growth of 6.7%.

Non-food sales saw a decline of 2.8% in the three months to April and remained in decline year on year.

In-store non-food sales fell 2.4% on a total basis in the three months to April, while online non-food sales slipped 5.5% against a 3.6% decline in the same period last year.

The online penetration rate for non-food items bought online was 36.2%, compared to 36.1% in April 2023. This was slightly higher than the 12-month average of 36.1%.


BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Dismal weather and disappointing sales led to a depressing start to spring for retailers, even accounting for the change in timing of Easter. People delayed typical spring purchases despite retailers’ attempts to entice customers with heavy discounts. A dull, wet April dampened sales growth for clothing and footwear, especially outdoor sportswear, as well as DIY and garden furniture. Promotions in computing did boost sales as many sought to upgrade their tech a few years post the pandemic surge in tech sales. Many retailers are hoping for brighter sales over the summer months as social events ramp up, and consumer confidence could improve with a potential cut in interest rates.

“A strong retail industry is vital for a strong economy and it is vital the next government recognises this if it wants to boost investment in our towns and cities. Retail is nearly 10% of employment in every region and plays a unique role in building communities and generating local economic growth. The government must champion pro-growth policies to help unlock important investment in many left-behind regions.”