UK Retail Sales Growth Hits 10-Year High
A late Easter helped boost UK retail sales to a 7.7% growth rate year-on-year, officially relased figures have revealed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes jumped by 1.3% on the March figure, and 6.9% on the year - the highest since May 2004.
A consensus among economists had forecast the rise to be around 0.5% on the month and 5.2% on the year.
The ONS said food sales jumped 3.6% in April compared to March, and 6.3% on the year, taking the rate to its highest level for more than 12 years.
It said the spike in food sales was due to better weather and promotions in-store.
Non-food store sales rose 6.5% year-on-year but were down 0.4% on the month.
The increase in consumer spending has become a key driver of Britain's modest recovery from the financial crisis more than five years ago.
A trend in easing inflation and gentle wage growth, along with record low mortgage rates, has helped boost spending.
However ONS figures released on Tuesday showed inflation rising 0.2% month-on-month, eating into the wage recovery.
Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), also released on Wednesday, showed gross mortgage lending was an estimated £16.6bn in April - 8% higher than March's total.
The CML added that it was 36% higher than April last year and the highest total for an April since 2008 when it was £25.7bn.
Click and collect, and smartphone usage to research prices, is increasingly seen as a driver for high street purchases.
Meanwhile, the sector known as non-store/repair saw the biggest jump out of eight retail areas classified by the ONS.
It said year-on-year that sector grew by 25.1%, and 5.9% month-on-month.
But spending on fuel dropped both on the month and compared to last year, due to price suppression.
Figures showed motorists spent 3.7% less on fuel in April compared to March, and 0.7% down on the April 2013 figure.
Deloitte UK head of retail Ian Geddes said: "It is encouraging to finally see some strong figures in the food sector, as this remains a challenging market for the large grocers who are vigorously responding to consumers' changing retail habits and, are currently implementing significant structural reorganisation.
"This is clearly a long race and the large grocers are repositioning themselves to win over customers in the new, more complex era of multichannel retailing."