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UK April retail sales rise 2.3%

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Thursday 18 May 2017

(ShareCast News) - UK April retail sales rose by an above expected by 2.3% compared to a 1.4% fall in March, the Office for National Statistics said.
The march figure was revised up from an initial estimate of a 1.8% fall. Year on year retail sales rose 4%, the ONS added.

"Anecdotal evidence from retailers suggests that good weather contributed to growth. Average prices slowed slightly in April 2017, falling from 3.3% in March to 3.1% in April," the ONS said in a statement.

There were increases in the quantity bought and amount spent across all store types except department stores and textile, clothing and footwear stores in April.

"This coincides with monthly falls in average store prices across all retailers except food stores and textile, clothing and footwear stores," the ONS said.

Michael Baxter, economics commentator at The Share Centre said the April data "seemed to reverse a worrying trend - but it is worth remembering that particularly good weather for the time of year may have distorted the performance".

"Developments in the labour market, meanwhile, are having a contradictory effect. On the one hand, UK unemployment is down to its lowest level since 1975, but despite this employment is still rising strongly," he said.

"On the other hand, average real wages are either falling or rising very slowly depending on which measure you use. With bonuses, they rose by 0.1% in the three months to March, without bonuses they fell by 0.2%."

"Inflation is expected to rise over the next few months putting real wages under further pressure. So although workers are set to become marginally worse off, there are more people in work."

"It is clear, however, that these are tough times for retail, particularly for those businesses who do not implement a plan to make maximum use of emerging technologies. In the years ahead, successful retailers will be the ones that embrace technology most effectively."


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