Shop sales hit by cold weather

Freezing weather drove retail sales 1.3% down in April on a month earlier as barbecue goods and garden furniture remained stuck on stores' shelves.

Shrinking food sales weighed heavily in April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, with food volumes slumping by 4.1% month on month to the lowest level since May 2011 as the deep freeze continued at the start of the month.

Retail sales edged up by just 0.5% on a year earlier, the ONS added, casting a cloud over the dominant services sector.

Economists said the figures provide a stark reminder that the economy is "not yet out of the woods".

High Street casualties

High Street casualties