Early Easter hits retail sales as April figures show nationwide drop

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The pace of recovery in the crucial London retail market slowed last month, data released today shows – although analysts say fears that the bounceback may be coming to an end are overdone.

Retail sales in central London rose by 3.6 per cent last month compared to April 2009, according to the British Retail Consortium, down from growth of above 10 per cent in March. Sales across the whole of the UK fell by 2.3 per cent.

There have been rising concerns that political uncertainty and fears of a squeeze on personal finances as the Government seeks to cut the dividend would prompt a slowdown in consumer spending. But last month's disappointing performance from the bellwether retail sector looks to have been more a result of one-off factors.

The timing of Easter, which straddled the end of March and the beginning of April this year, skewed the figures, as did the volcanic ash cloud, which prevented tourists reaching London and spending money in its shops.