U.K. Retail Sales Grow at Fastest Pace in 19 Months, CBI Says

  • Warm weather in early April boosted spending on clothes
  • Report warns of mounting cost pressures on stores and shoppers

U.K. retail sales grew at their fastest annual pace in 19 months in April, according to the Confederation of British Industry, as warm weather encouraged Britons to splurge on their homes and wardrobes.

The CBI’s monthly retail index climbed to 38, the highest since September 2015, from 9 in March. Clothing and groceries led the gain, with hardware retailers reporting “solid growth,” despite the late timing of the Easter holiday which usually proves a boost for the high street. Even so, retailers are wary as consumers start to feel pinch from faster inflation.

“The warm weather in early April might go some way to explaining the uptick,” said CBI Principal Economist Ben Jones. “However, retailers are still cautious over the outlook” as “higher inflation eats into household spending.”

The CBI’s warnings come after statistics office data showed retail sales recorded their largest decline in seven years in the first quarter, boding ill for an economy that relies heavily on consumer spending. Households are being squeezed as stagnating wages fail to keep pace with rising food and fuel costs, the result of the pound’s 13 percent drop since the June vote to leave the European Union.

— With assistance by Mark Evans

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