UK retail sales growth slows unexpectedly in April

Growth in retail sales volumes fell unexpectedly in April, but is forecast to pick up again this month, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

In survey of 122 firms, 30% of respondents said volumes were up on a year ago, and 18% said they were down, giving a balance of +12%, a below expectations for a rise to +21%.

The CBI said sales increased across most types of retailers, including clothing boutiques, but sales among grocers declined, hitting overall growth.

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Retailers expect sales growth to accelerate noticeably next month, with a balance of +40%.

CBI chairman Barry Williams said: “With the mixed news we’ve been seeing from the high street recently it’s perhaps not surprising that retailers have reported varied fortunes this month.

“With shopping habits changing so dramatically in the last few years underlying consumer confidence is hard to read, but both retailers and wholesalers are optimistic there will be a spring in their customers’ steps, and therefore their sales, in the near future.”