Retail sales fell in April, distorted by the timing of Easter, but the underlying trend looks positive, according to the BRC-KPMG’s Retail Sales Monitor.

Fashion sales rose in the period

  • Sales figures distorted by Easter falling earlier than last year
  • Strongest three-month underlying growth since June 2014
  • Total sales rise 1.9% over the three months to the end of April

Like-for-likes in April fell 2.4%, up against a 4.2% rise in April 2014 and negative distortion by the timing of Easter, which fell earlier than in 2014.

Total sales dropped 1.3%, compared with a 5.7% rise in April 2014. Adjusted for price inflation, the BRC said total sales growth was up 0.6% last month.

Total sales rose 1.9% over the three-month weighted average – the strongest underlying growth since June.

Within the three-month period food sales rose 0.4%, ahead of the 0.6% decline over the past 12 months. Non-food increased 3.2%.

Following a tough autumn/winter period when warm weather dented sales, fashion retailers made gains in April.

Women’s clothing was the best performing segment, while kidswear fell because there were fewer school holidays during the month than last year.

“While the early Easter this year heavily distorted April’s figures, we see the best three month average year-on-year growth since June”

Helen Dickinson, BRC

Fashion sales increased across stores and online, which were achieved with less promotional activity than last year.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The sunniest April since records began gave a boost to fashion sales, driving demand for spring/summer clothing and footwear and consumers also took advantage of Easter sales to bag a bargain.”

Furniture was the worst performing category in April due to tough comparables with last year.

Best growth since June

BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said: “April witnessed a solid performance for fashion and beauty retailers; particularly welcome following a disappointing autumn/winter season.”

“While the early Easter this year heavily distorted April’s figures, across all categories, we see the best three-month average year-on-year growth since June of last year; a clear indication that confidence among consumers is slowly improving and that despite profitability being under intense pressure due to changes in shopping habits and promotional activity, retail remains a robust pillar of the economy.”

McCorquodale said: “Looking ahead, the birth of Princess Charlotte together with the promise of more warm weather on the horizon will boost consumers’ feel good factor and encourage spending as we head into the summer months.

“Added to this, with David Cameron firmly in place at No. 10, retailers will be looking to ensure he fulfils his promise not to increase VAT and also to review business rates. It is also hoped that a stable government can allow consumer confidence to flourish.”