UK retail sales fall after petrol sales slump

Kate Davies, Office for National Statistics: "Petrol sales have fallen by 13%"

Retail sales volumes fell by 2.3% in April, largely because of a record fall in petrol sales, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Sales of fuel were down by 13.2% in April. In March, motorists had panic-bought petrol ahead of a threatened tanker driver strike.

Sales of clothing and footwear were also affected by April's record rainfall.

April's fall comes after sales had risen by 2% in March.

Stripping out the impact of the fall in petrol sales, total retail sales volumes were down 1% between March and April.

For the year, sales were down by 1.1%, whereas analysts had forecast a rise of 1%.

Consumers remained to reluctant to spend more. Retail sales values rose by 0.4% compared with a year ago, the slowest rate of growth since January 2010.

In addition, the ONS said April's sales values in predominantly food stores increased by just 0.1% compared with the year before, the smallest year-on-year growth since records began in January 1989.

The ONS said food price inflation was 3.7% in April compared with a year ago, constraining food budgets.

Philip Shaw, from Investec, said exceptional factors made the figures difficult to read: "The headline number is very very weak indeed, but that's mainly due to the effect of lower fuel sales over the threatened strike period. Nonetheless, stripping that out, there is still a big drop in sales, which is probably weather-related.

"So it's very difficult to get a gauge of underlying strength of High Street activity from these numbers, given so very big distorting factors."

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • Plane at Shannon airportShannon's call

    The airport that hosted a roll-call of presidents


  • Susanne du ToitTop 10 Tips

    Portrait painter Susanne du Toit on being an artist


  • Atletico's Diego Godin celebrates his goal with teammate David VillaWeek in pictures

    The best news photographs from around the world


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world

Programmes

  • Joe Ierardi playing a pianoClick Watch

    Meet the man trying to create the perfect digital piano - but is it as good as the real thing?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.