High Street

Retail sales ‘fall off a cliff’ in April

Like-for-like sales fell by 4.2% in April, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Online retail bucked the overall trend of declining sales, with growth in all categories except toys and baby equipment. According to the report, retailers hope for a “buoyant May, boosted by the royal wedding and sunnier weather”.

Helen Dickinson, CEO at the BRC, said: “A drop in sales this April, compared to last, was almost inevitable given the earlier timing of Easter. With much of the spending in preparation for the Bank Holiday weekend falling in March this year, a record low in sales growth, in contrast to last year’s record high, does not come as a surprise.”

She added: “However, even once we take account of these seasonal distortions, the underlying trend in sales growth is heading downwards. The retail industry is undergoing an unprecedented period of change the impact of which is being laid bare for us all to see across the nation’s high streets.”

Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, added: “April’s figures show retail sales growth falling off a cliff, with sales down 3.1% on last year, but we must exercise caution and remember that the timing of Easter makes meaningful month-on-month comparisons difficult.

“That said, the three-month average is more helpful to assess, but this too points to sales only growing modestly – these are indeed testing times for retailers.”

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