• Retail sales volumes advance 4.3% in April
  • Increase marks 36th consecutive month of year-on-year growth
  • But fashion retailers suffer 6.3% slump in sales as weather dents performance

Retail sales enjoyed a surprise jump in April despite colder weather denting performance across the fashion and footwear sectors.

The quantity of goods purchased across the UK retail sector climbed 4.3% compared to the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The increase in sales volumes marked the 36th consecutive month of year-on-year growth.

Retail sales volumes were also ahead on a monthly basis, advancing 1.3% compared to March 2016.

Sales values also posted growth, increasing 1.2% compared to April 2015, while they grew 1% on a monthly basis.

The amount spent across the retail industry hit £28.1bn last month, up from £27.6bn in April 2015.

According to the ONS’s seasonally adjusted figures, the textile, clothing and footwear category was the only area to post a drop in sales, slumping 6.3% compared to last April.

Department stores proved to be the standout sector, reporting an 8.2% spike in sales volumes 8.2%, while grocery retailers enjoyed a 3.8% uplift.

Household goods stores registered a 3.1% increase in the quantity of goods purchased during the month.

But non-store retailing again outperformed bricks-and-mortar rivals as the trend of consumers shopping online drove an 11% increase during April. The average weekly spend online hit £886.6m last month.

ONS head of retail sales Melanie Richard said fashion stores “remain the main drag on growth in the retail sector, with sales hampered by unseasonal weather”.

However, Richards added that lower prices across the sector had boosted sales last month compared to March.

Keith Richardson, managing director of the retail sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, agreed that “unseasonal weather” impacted fashion, but insisted the overall “positive trend” would continue in the coming months.

He added: “Retailers now have to seize the initiative and do whatever they can to ensure that shoppers continue to spend that extra income on things, rather than experiences, by heading to the high street and not into restaurants or on holidays.”