Retail sales beat market hopes

Retail Sales rose slightly more than forecast last month, with stronger demand at fashion chains and department stores offsetting a flat performance in food sales.

Including fuel, sales volumes were up 0.3 per cent last month, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. This exceeded City expectations of a 0.2 per cent rise. On an annual basis, sales were 1.8 per cent higher in April, matching the pace of growth set in March.

Despite the rise, analysts remain wary of the outlook for consumer demand, citing the effect of the upcoming cuts in government spending.

"Although these data support the case for a robust pace of GDP expansion around the middle of this year, we doubt that consumer demand will be so supportive towards the end of this year – particularly as the effects of fiscal tightening take effect," Alan Clarke, the UK economist at BNP Paribas, said.