Retail sales volumes recorded their highest year-on-year growth in a decade in April, boosted by Easter and growing consumer confidence.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail volumes increased 6.9% against last year and 1.3% against March 2014 as all retailers recorded increases in sales volumes.
Barclays head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said: “April was destined to be a bumper month thanks to the late timing of Easter this year. Retail sales were also given a welcome boost as a result of the renewed confidence in the housing market, and many consumers spent on home improvements.”
Food retailers posted their strongest year-on-year volume growth since 2002, up 6.3% after a better-than-expected Easter and better weather conditions. It is the highest growth since January 2002. Additionally, promotions across supermarkets also boosted sales as food retailers kicked off a new price war, pushing inflation down to 0.9%.
UK head of retail at Deloitte Ian Geddes said: “It is encouraging to finally see some strong figures in the food sector, as this remains a challenging market for the large grocers who are vigorously responding to consumers’ changing retail habits and, are currently implementing significant structural reorganisation. This is clearly a long race and the large grocers are repositioning themselves to win over customers in the new, more complex era of multichannel retailing.”
Retail sales values rose 6.2% in April against last year and by 0.6% against March 2014. The average weekly spend across retail was £7bn against £6.5bn last year and £6.8bn in March 2014.
For every pound spent the ONS said 42p was spent in food stores, 41p in non-food stores, 6p in non-store retailing and 11p in automotive fuel
In April 2014 the amount spent in food stores increased 7% year-on-year and by 2.1% against March 2014.
Fashion and footwear volumes increased 6.7% against last year, and values increased 7.9%. Household goods stores volumes were up 5.3%, and values up 4.9%. Department stores volumes surged 9.2% and values up 7.9%. Non-store retailers, such as online retailers and market stools, recorded a 25.1% increase in volumes and a 23.5% increase in values.
The amount spent online rebounded, up 13.3% in April against last year and up 2.6% against March 2014.
PwC chief economist John Hawksworth said: “Retail sales volumes continued to boom in the three months to April with growth of 5% compared to a year earlier and 1.8% compared to the previous three months. These are the fastest volume growth rates seen since 2004 and suggest that the wider consumer recovery remains on track as we move into spring. These positive trends reflect a recent return to positive real income growth as well as rising confidence on the back of increased housing wealth.”