Retail sales rise by 2.3% in April as good weather helps stores

The pound jumped on the news, rising 0.5% to over 1.30 US dollars

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Retail sales have outstripped expectations to rise by 2.3% in April compared with the month before, thought to be in part due to good weather.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales were up by 4% compared with April last year, exceeding forecasts of 1% monthly growth and 2% year-on-year growth.

It said: "Anecdotal evidence from retailers suggests that good weather contributed to growth."

However on a rolling three-month basis, which partially removes single month fluctuations, sales also picked up slightly.

The ONS said: "The underlying pattern, as measured by the three month on three month estimate, showed a slight increase in April 2017 following a short period of contraction, increasing by 0.3%."

Average prices slowed slightly in April, falling from 3.3% in March to 3.1%.

The pound jumped on the news, rising 0.5% to over 1.30 US dollars.

Against the euro, sterling was 0.7% higher at 1.17 euros.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Given yesterday's news that real wages are now falling, today's retail sales data was always going to be closely scrutinised.

"The theory went that squeezed household budgets would likely hit retailers in the pocket too. But in fact the figures beat expectations handsomely, with sales in April 2.3% higher than in March and growing 4% year-on-year.

"April's figures were always expected to be better than March, because of the timing of the Easter holiday, but economists had forecast a smaller rebound of 1%, and much more subdued annual growth of 2%."

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