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Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Warm Weather Gives Little Respite for U.K. Retail Sales in April

Warm Weather Gives Little Respite for U.K. Retail Sales in April

  • Spending in pubs and restaurants increased by over 10 percent
  • Outlook remains subdued with consumers still cautious
U.K Retail Sales Slide As Shoppers Prepare For Brexit
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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U.K. retail sales stayed below expectations in April even as warm weather and a long holiday weekend boosted spending on food and drink, reports published Wednesday showed.

Spending in pubs and restaurants increased by more than 10 percent, Barclaycard said. With the deadline for Britain’s exit from the European Union extended until the end of October, consumers’ reported confidence in the economy edged up to 33 percent from 26 percent in March.

Still, another report from the British Retail Consortium showed said that sales were below expectations. When correcting for the distorting impact that the timing of Easter has on sales, April spending increased just 0.4 percent over the last two years, a slowdown from 0.9 percent in March. On a like-for-like basis, sales rose 3.7 percent from last year.

“While the Brexit delay seems to have brought some short-term relief to consumer confidence, it’s clear that many shoppers still remain cautious about making any big-ticket purchases such as holidays, a new car or investing in home improvement,” said Esme Harwood, director at Barclaycard.

The Barclaycard report said that consumers will remain cautious, with six in 10 expecting no change to spending plans in May. Only one in 10 said they expect to spend on big-ticket items because of the Brexit delay.

The resilience of consumers in the face of Brexit uncertainty is largely being supported by the labor market, where pay growth is picking up, employment is at a record and the jobless rate is the lowest since the 1970s.