Wet April puts a dampener on High Street sales

Consumer interest in outdoor products washed out last month, says BRC
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The British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed last month's UK retail sales values fell 3.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to April 2011, when they were up 5.2 per cent on a year before.

On a total basis, sales were down 1.0 per cent, against a 6.9 per cent increase in April 2011. Outdoor product sales were affected in the fall, the BRC added.

Notably however, the changing time of Easter skews comparison to some degree with the year before. This April was up against an unusually strong April 2011, which in itself was up on April 2010 - '11 included all four days of Easter (and good weather) while '10 had only two.

"The wettest April since records began has put a dampener on retailers' fortunes," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson. "Consumer interest in summer fashions and outdoor products was washed away by constant downpours.

"It would have been difficult for this April to out-perform April 2011 even with favourable weather, but these numbers are still disappointing. The long Easter weekend was a peak time for many retailers but its position earlier in the month shifted some Easter shopping into March. "

In addition, April last year was boosted by the Royal Wedding and the accompanying extra day-off for people to shop or celebrate. Retailers are keeping everything crossed that a 2012 feel-good factor from this summer's events kicks in soon."

KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson added: "April sales were always going to struggle against the very strong sales figures seen in April 2011, which benefited from the late Easter and glorious weather. Anything other than chilly winds and showers seems a distant memory for consumers and this sums up the mood of many retailers."

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