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Retail sales bounce back in April



Retail sales rose by a better-than-expected 1.6% in April as consumers resumed spending after unseasonably cold weather earlier in the year.
Petrol sales surged 4.7% after falling 6.9% in March after widespread snow disruption, official statistics show.
Only department stores reported a decline, with sales volumes down 0.9%.
However, Rob Kent-Smith of the Office for National Statistics said the retail sector remained subdued, with sales in recent months largely unchanged.
"Department stores declined following relatively strong sales last month, when their online sales were boosted during the adverse weather," he said.
"Over the longer-term, retail sales growth has slowed considerably, with increases in food, household goods and internet retailers being largely offset by declines across all other types of retailing."
Retail sales fell by 1.8% in March and posted their biggest quarterly fall in seven years as the prices of everyday goods continued to rise.
'Lacklustre' performance
Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said the April rise reflected a recovery from snow-induced weakness in March, rather than robust spending momentum.
"We continue to expect retail spending to increase only at a glacial rate this year. Consumers' confidence has weakened and savings intentions have picked up," he said.
"The sharp rise in oil prices to nearly $80 will filter through to petrol pumps over the next three weeks, hitting petrol sales volumes and squeezing the amount of money households have left for discretionary consumption."
Ben Brettell of Hargreaves Lansdown said the underlying trend for retail sales remained "pretty lacklustre" and the figures were little incentive for the Bank of England to raise interest rates.
"Growth is anaemic at best, and retail sales look insipid. But with inflation falling back towards target and real wages finally growing, albeit only slowly, there's little cause for alarm either," he said.