Shop sales slump in April hit by heavy rain

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Shop sales slump in April hit by heavy rain

Retail sales fell by much more than expected in April as heavy rain kept shoppers at home.

Sales volumes fell by 2.3% from the month before. Analysts had expected a drop of about 0.5%.

Clothing retailers, sports equipment, games and toys stores, and furniture stores all did particularly badly as poor weather reduced footfall, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

March’s figure was also revised down to show a 0.2% fall from February, whereas previously sales had been estimated as flat.

April saw storms and heavy rainfall, with several flood warnings issued across the UK.

Online sales, which are usually less affected by bad weather, also fell 1.2% on the month.

Although the ONS says sales figures are seasonally adjusted, last year Easter fell in April and this year it was in March, which sometimes is not fully allowed for.

More broadly, there was a 0.7% rise in the three months to April 2024 when compared with the three months to January 2024, but the ONS said this was mainly because of an exceptionally poor December 2023.

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