UK retail sales rose by 3.7% in April compared with a 4.2% decrease in the same month in 2018, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG’s latest Retail Sales Monitor shows.
However, during the three months to April, non-food retail sales in the UK fell by 0.2% on a like-for-like basis and by 0.1% on a total basis.
In the quarter, in-store sales of non-food items declined by 1.7% on a total basis and 1.8% on a like-for-like basis.
Meanwhile, online sales of non-food products grew by 4.3% in April, compared with 6.7% in April 2018.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Retail sales were below expectation this month as the sunshine over the Easter weekend persuaded many to pursue recreational, rather than retail activities. Department stores, as well as clothing and footwear shops, were harder hit by the warmer weather, while food-to-go fared much better from it.
“Online accounted for a little under 30% of all non-food sales, and we expect this proportion to continue to rise. Nonetheless, the pace of growth has slowed over the course of the year despite the investment that many stores have made in their digital offering.
“Retailers are continuing to invest in technology across both physical and online activities as they seek to meet changing consumer behaviours. However, some of such spending is being held back by the plethora of government-imposed business costs bearing down on the industry.
“Government should review these costs – and in particular reduce the burden of business rates – if they wish to see retail maintain its place as the main provider of highly valued, flexible jobs in communities up and down the country.”