April Retail Sales Plummet Due to Severe Weather Conditions

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April proved challenging for UK retailers as heavy rainfall and stormy weather significantly impacted sales, resulting in a sharp decline.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a 2.3% drop in retail sales volumes from the previous month, far exceeding analysts’ predictions of a 0.5% decrease.

The inclement weather deterred shoppers, leading to poor performance across several sectors. Clothing retailers, sports equipment stores, games and toy shops, and furniture stores were particularly affected due to reduced footfall, according to the ONS.

In addition to the bleak April figures, March’s sales data was revised downward to reflect a 0.2% fall from February, contrary to initial estimates of no change.

April experienced severe weather, with numerous flood warnings issued across the UK, contributing to the slump in retail activity. Online sales, which typically show resilience against adverse weather, also saw a decline of 1.2% over the month.

While the ONS adjusts sales figures seasonally, the shift of Easter from April last year to March this year was a factor that wasn’t fully accounted for, adding complexity to the monthly comparisons.

On a more positive note, retail sales for the three months leading up to April 2024 showed a 0.7% increase compared to the previous three months ending January 2024. However, the ONS attributed this rise primarily to exceptionally poor performance in December 2023, suggesting a low base effect rather than a robust recovery.

The challenging weather and seasonal discrepancies underscore the volatility in retail performance, highlighting the sector’s sensitivity to external factors. Retailers will be looking for more stable conditions in the coming months to regain lost ground.

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