Business

UK retail sales see modest rise

Shoppers
Image caption Household spending is set to remain under pressure

UK retail sales grew steadily last month, figures show, but analysts say shoppers are set to remain cautious.

Sales grew by 0.3% in April, the Office for National Statistics said, which was slightly better than had been expected.

Food sales were unchanged from the previous month, but the ONS said clothing and shoe stores had seen strong growth.

The sales growth for March was also revised upwards to 0.5% from the original estimate of 0.4%.

"Although these figures were marginally better than expected, they confirm the broad picture of a fragile recovery that is still facing many obstacles," said David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce.

Stripping out fuel sales, retail sales were up by just 0.1% in April.

April's sales volumes were up 1.8% compared with a year ago, the same annual increase as in March.

"April's relatively modest growth in retail sales suggests that the consumer is alive but not kicking particularly hard," said Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight.

He added that households still faced "very challenging" conditions, with high unemployment and the possibility of tax rises in the future as the coalition government seeks to improve public finances.

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