| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

UK Retail sales spike in April as lockdown restrictions ease

UK Spending on clothes have surged to boost retail sales last month, as lockdown restrictions eased and non-essential shops reopened.

Retail sales jumped 9.2 percent in April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, with sales of clothing soaring by nearly 70 percent compared with March, and overall sales were more than 10 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels, although online sales dipped.

Fuel sales increased, but remained below levels seen before coronavirus.

Retailers such as clothing and furniture stores, which the government classed as non-essential, reopened to shoppers in England on 12 April after shutting in early January.

The “astonishing” surge in clothing and footwear sales in April “showed that households were particularly eager to update their wardrobes”, said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics.

He said that there was less scope now for more big gains in retail sales, but added that recent data suggested that the economic recovery in May was “driven by people going back to the pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres”.

Silvia Rindone, EY UK & Ireland retail leader, said April had seen “significant pent-up consumer demand”.

“With consumers keen to return to the in-store shopping experience and indulge in retail therapy, we saw a sales boost across most categories.” The reopening of non-essential shops led to a boost for many small businesses.

Delia Prudence, owner of The Art Room, an art supplies shop in Scarborough, said: “We were expecting to be busy in April but not that busy.

“The tills were ringing non-stop. One customer even came in with a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate us reopening.”