Like-for-like sales leaped last month as sunny Easter weather and the royal wedding boosted sales.
The industry recorded a 5.2% like-for-like year-on-year uplift in April, when total sales climbed 6.9%, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed.
The figures provide some comfort following the previous month’s 1.9% fall in total sales – the worst performance in 16 years.
BRC-director Stephen Robertson said: “These sales figures are a relief after the dire sales falls we saw in March but they are not the full picture.
“The numbers are being compared with an April last year which was a time of uncertainty ahead of the general election, and which didn’t include the main Easter trading period.
“Considered together, the results for March and April largely cancel each other out and the overall trend is flat. The underlying pressures on the retail sector of climbing costs and depressed consumer spending will be problems for many months to come.”
The BRC reported that clothing and footwear benefited from the warm weather, along with outdoor DIY and leisure products. Big-ticket categories continued to suffer however.
Grocers were big beneficiaries in April. IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Shoppers made the most of the hottest April on record, the bank holidays and the royal wedding.
“Alcohol sales, particularly Champagne, received a boost as people toasted the royal couple’s big day.
“Overall food and grocery sales growth was especially strong in the run-up to Easter, but was flattered by Good Friday and Saturday falling in March’s trading period in 2010, but April’s this year.”
Sales over the internet, by mail-order and phone rose 13.7% in April, a big improvement on the low 7.5% increase in March.
On a three-month weighted basis industry like-for-likes rose 0.1% in April. A 2.1% increase in food was balanced by a 1.3% fall in non-food.