The UK high street has failed to bounce back strongly in April after poor weather kept consumers at home in March. According to the latest British Retail Consortium figures, like-for-like sales are down by 4.2% relative to April last year.
Some of this can be linked to the timing of Easter and the volatile weather conditions around the UK, but analysts warned that the underlying trends were negative. Online retailers outperformed bricks-and-mortar outfits, with clothing and footwear the best performing sector for both.
Paul Martin, Head of Retail at KPMG, said: “Retailers have got their work cut out to overcome seemingly endless obstacles, whether it be unpredictable weather or the introduction of new regulation, like GDPR. The upcoming months will provide a number of opportunities for retailers to drive sales and navigate this assault course, including Bank holidays, World Cup and of course the Royal wedding, although it is clear that trading will remain challenging.”
With the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee set to meet later this week, this continuing weakness suggests that they are unlikely to agree to raise interest rates at this juncture.