UK retail sales were distorted by the run up to Easter, which this year fell in April compared to March last year, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for April 2019.
On a total basis, sales increased 4.1% in April, beating last April's increase of 3.1%. This was above both the three-month and 12-month average increases of 1.2% and 1.4% respectively.
The two year average growth, which corrects for the Easter distortion, was 0.4% per annum, a slowdown from March's equivalent of 0.9%.
In April, UK retail sales increased by 3.7% on a like-for-like basis compared to 2018, when they had decreased 4.2% from the preceding year. The two year average like-for-like change was -0.3%, a slowdown from March's 0.1%.
Over the three months running up to April, in-store sales of non-food items declined 1.7% on a total basis and 1.8% on a like-for-like basis.
Food sales increased 1.7% on a like-for-like basis and 2.8% on a total basis; this is below the 12 month total average growth of 3.0%.
Non-food retail sales in the UK decreased by 0.2% on a like-for-like basis and by 0.1% on a total basis.
In April, online sales of non-food products grew 4.3%, against growth of 6.7% in April 2018.
Online penetration rate increased to 29.7% last month, from 28.0% in April 2018.
Blame It On The Sunshine
“Retail sales were below expectations this month as the sunshine over the Easter weekend persuaded many to pursue recreational, rather than retail, activities," said Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium. "Department stores, as well as clothing and footwear shops, were harder hit by the warmer weather, while food-to-go fared much better from it."
"Retailers reaped the rewards of Easter and more favourable weather in April, with like for like sale up 3.7% year-on-year. However, we must remain mindful of the distortion caused by Easter’s timing." Added Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG.
“Looking at sub-categories, food retailers were clear winners as families came together for festive feasts and even braved their first picnic or barbecue of the year." he said.
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Helen Galgey. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.