Retail sales grew by a healthy 5.2 per cent in April, providing a major boost to the UK economy, according to a survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The warm weather and a double helping of bank holiday weekends, including the Royal Wedding provided a surge of spending to give a boost to the retail figures.
The sales data reverses a 3.5 per cent fall from March. However, the BRC has warned that this month could just be a positive blip and that the underlying economic situation is one of weak spending and pressure for retailers.
Taken in tandem with March the level of growth is low. The number of people visiting shops fell by 0.8 per cent from a year ago, though a separate report indicates that footfall in April increased by 11 per cent over March.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said:
"Easter and the Royal Wedding bank holiday provided a badly needed boost to many retailers during April.
"These sales figures are a relief after the dire sales falls we saw in March but they are not the full picture.
Considered together, the results for March and April largely cancel each other out and the overall trend is flat,” he added.
Groceries, including beer, ice cream and barbecue food picked up in part due to the good weather and bank holiday weekends. In addition clothing sales grew as people looked to buy their summer wardrobe earlier than usual.
Sales of garden furniture grew and the Royal Wedding helped to provide an uplift in sales of champagne.
Champagne and garden furniture were among the items most in demand as the nation celebrated the royal wedding during the sunniest April on record.
However, in areas of retail not benefiting from favourable circumstances sales remained muted. Internet sales continued to rise at an even faster pace. Online sales were up by 14 per cent, almost double the increase seen in March.
Most economists are viewing the increase in retail sales cautiously. Howard Archer, Chief UK & European Economist for HIS Global Insight said: “Consumers' purchasing power is currently being squeezed hard by high inflation in tandem with ongoing muted wage growth. Concerns over jobs, the economy and fiscal tightening increasingly kicking in from April.”