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UK retail sales up 4.6% overall in April, online grew by 12.5%

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UK retail sales values rose 4.6% on a like-for-like basis and rose 6.3% on a total basis, from April 2008, when sales were very weak in the cold wet weather after Easter fell in March, the British Retail Consortium has reported. Easter and the warmer weather boosted both food and non-food sales. In non-food, clothing, footwear and outdoor leisure showed the best growth but big-ticket homewares and furniture sales remained difficult.

Non-food non-store sales (internet, mail-order and phone sales) in April were 12.5% higher than a year ago. “Non-store grew faster than shop sales but the gap in growth rates narrowed significantly as store sales did better than in recent months, says Sharon Hardiman, the BRC’s head of non-store retailing.

“Online and catalogue sales were boosted by extra customer interest in many of the same things doing well in stores — DIY, outdoor furniture and toys, sandals and summer clothes,” she added. “That took non-store sales growth back up to virtually the same rate seen in February but it was well below the rates seen in December and January, showing this route to customers is not immune from the effects of recession.”

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