Fashion and gift retailers enjoyed a lift to sales in April while homewares continued to suffer.

The BDO Stoy Hayward High Street Sales Tracker of medium-sized retailers revealed that across all sectors retail like-for-likes increased 1.7 per cent in April.

The report said the Easter calendar shift increased demand for gifts and luxury items, and that there was a “healthy demand” for seasonal ranges.

Fashion retailers enjoyed their strongest month since last July, with like-for-likes combing 2.7 per cent. Those with a focus on youth ranges and footwear performed best, while those selling formalwear suffered more.

In non-fashion, gifts and luxury items rose 2.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis, with tourism continuing to help sales. Demand for leisure goods increased while health and beauty was more “subdued”.

Like-for-likes in homewares slumped 7.9 per cent. While demand for smaller-ticket items held up, sales in furniture, lighting and textiles “decreased steeply, possibly reflecting increased promotional activity from the larger DIY retailers”.

BDO Stoy Hayward head of retail Rupert Eastell said: “A second consecutive month of positive like-for-likes is, without a doubt, very encouraging. It would seem that, despite the gloomy headlines, consumers are adjusting well to the harsher economic environment and retailers are being very shrewd at stimulating demand. Although we still expect conditions will remain very challenging in the coming months, underlying demand does seem to have picked up”.