Retail sales jumped last month as the late Easter weekend drove purchases across the sector.

According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, like-for-likes climbed 5.6% in April compared to the same month a year ago.

Total sales spiked at 6.3%, making it the best April for retail since 2011, although that month was also positively distorted by the late timing of Easter.

In the wider three-month period to April 29, food sales increased 2.4% in like-for-like terms and 3.6% on a total sales basis.

Non-food sales inched up 0.3% on a like-for-like basis during the same three months. Total non-food sales were up 0.7%.

Online revenues grew at a quicker rate than in-store purchases, surging 10.3% during April.

That marked the fastest growth in ecommerce sales since last November.

The Easter effect

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said the Easter boost went “some way to making up for the disappointing start to the year.”

However, she cautioned that Easter was “largely responsible” for April’s sales growth and warned: “Looking to the longer-term signs of a slowdown, the outlook isn’t as rosy.”

Dickinson added: “Consumer spend on food and non-food items is diverging. Food categories continue to contribute the most weight to overall growth, although food inflation has a part to play in this.

“Meanwhile, consumers are being more cautious in their spending towards non-food products and focussing more on value priced lines.”

KPMG head of retail Paul Martin described the April sales uplift as “a brief period of respite for retailers following a relentless start to the year.”

But Martin pointed out that much of the rise was driven by the later Easter and “growing inflationary pressures”, rather than an upswing in consumer confidence.

He said: “Looking ahead, retailers need to ensure that this month’s boost doesn’t lull them into a false sense of security.

“The retail landscape is changing fast and as such, agility and the ability to manage costs will remain critical.”