UK retail sales rose in April despite fastest inflation rate in decades

Increase was driven by spending on alcohol, confectionary and tobacco in supermarkets

UK retail sales unexpectedly rose in April even as consumers struggled with the fastest inflation rate in four decades.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online gained 1.4 per cent, after falling 1.2 per cent the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said Friday. Economists had expected a decline of 0.3 per cent. Sales excluding auto fuel also rose 1.4 per cent.

The increase was driven by spending on alcohol, confectionary and tobacco in supermarkets, as well as higher clothing sales online. Fuel sales also increased after a record jump in prices led to a sharp fall the previous month.

The figures cover a month where inflation jumped to 9 per cent, the highest level since the 1980s, as millions of Britons faced eye-watering rises in their energy bills. Payroll taxes also rose.

With disposable incomes on course to fall at one of the steepest rates on record, UK consumer confidence has also taken a battering, with separate data Friday showing it has plunged to the lowest level since at least 1974.

The ONS said supermarket food sales were broadly flat, and sales of household goods fell. Lower spending on second-hand goods was also reported, including antiques and goods sold at auction. – Bloomberg

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