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Published on May 8th, 2019 | by The GC Team

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Sunshine snookers April retail sales

Retail sales appeared to perform well in April, but the underlying picture shows that when the Easter distortion is corrected (Easter fell in March last year) the result fell below expectations.

Total sales increased by 4.1%, against a decrease of 3.1% in April 2018, but the 2-year average growth shows a 0.4% rise, a slowdown from the March equivalent of 0.9%.

Like-for-like sales were even more disappointing. An increase of 3.7% against a fall of 4.2% from the preceding year translating into a 2-year average of -0.3%.

British Retail Consortium Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said the sunshine over the Easter weekend persuaded many to pursue recreational rather than retail activities.

Online sales of non-food products grew 4.3% in April, against growth of 6.7% in April 2018. The 2-year average was 5.5% per annum, in line with March’s 5.4% but below the 12-month average of 6.2%.

“Online accounted for a little under 30% of all non-food sales, and we expect this proportion to continue to rise,” said Dickinson. “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.”

Paul Martin, Partner, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, commented on the balancing act facing retailers: “April may have eased the strain on retailers somewhat, but we can’t overlook the fact that the new tax year also presents retailers with additional costs ranging from increased minimum wages to additional pension contributions.

“The task of balancing sales and a profitable margin remains crucial, especially given the widespread promotional activity currently.”

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