Russia's retail sales rose more than expected in April as the economy rebounds from the impact of last year's COVID-19 lockdown, adding weight to officials' assurances of a faster-than-expected recovery, data showed on Friday.
Retail sales rose 34.7% in year-on-year terms, the statistics service said, beating a 23% increase forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The central bank and economy ministry have said the economy will recover to pre-pandemic levels in the next few weeks and GDP growth may come close to reaching the 3% target in 2021. Lockdown restrictions stifled economic activity during the onset of the pandemic last April.
Russia's commodity-dependent economy is on the mend after a 3% contraction in 2020, its sharpest in 11 years, although analysts warn that the rebound will run out of steam due to a lack of structural reforms and investments.
In month-on-month terms, retail sales, a barometer of consumer demand and Russia's key economic driver, were up 0.3% in April.
In May of this year, the Russian economy ministry said it was studying possible measures to address the issue of strong food exports amid globally higher prices for food and commodities.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on Thursday warned that Russia's recovering economy was at risk of overheating, with annual inflation already high at 5.9%, well above the central bank's 4% target.
High inflation has prompted the central bank to raise rates twice this year, to 5%, making lending more expensive. The key rate is widely expected to be further raised to 5.25% next week, a Reuters poll of analysts showed.
Elsewhere, the United Nations food agency said world food prices rose at its fastest monthly rate in May, posting a 12th consecutive monthly increase to hit their highest level since September 2011.