Retail sales beat forecasts despite Brexit uncertainties

Retail sales
// Retail sales up 1.8% in 3 months to April
// Compared to the same period last year, sales increased by 5.4%
// Online sales rose 9.4%

Retail sales in the UK have increased by almost two per cent in spring despite Brexit uncertainties.

In the three months to April, retail sales increased by 1.8 per cent.

Compared to the same period last year, sales increased by 5.4 per cent, the fastest pace since December 2016.

Retail sales fell flat in the second half of last year, after a strong summer season.

Consumers were spending again in the first quarter of the year, despite rising Brexit uncertainties and supported by a strong labour market.

Online sales rose 9.4 per cent over the three-month period – “the highest three-month-on-three-month growth rate since records began,” the ONS said.

Retail sales growth in April surpassed Reuters polls forecasts with a 5.2 per cent expansion, above the 4.6 per cent predicted.

“Retail growth was strong in the three months to April with a record quarter for the online sector, driven mainly by clothing purchases, with warmer weather boosting sales” ONS head of retail sales Rhian Murphy said.

In the three months to March, the UK unemployment rate dropped to the lowest rate since 1974, while the employment rate increased.

However, department stores have not borne any fruit despite the increase in retail sales. Sales at department stores have remained flat.

“Department stores continued to see their sales fall,” Murphy said.

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