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May 20, 2010    

Retail sales up in April

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by Kay Murchie

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today revealed a slight rise in retail sales for the month of April - boosted by stronger clothing and department store sales.

According to the ONS, sales volumes including fuel grew 0.3% in April - slightly beating analysts’ forecasts of a 0.2% rise and follows a revised increase of 0.5% in March.

On an annual basis, sales rose 1.8% in the month - in line with estimates and unchanged from March’s figure.

The figures suggest that consumer demand is holding up well as Britain recovers from its worst recession in decades.

However, many economists are concerned about future growth since a VAT rise from 17.5% to 20% is on the cards.

Jonathan Loynes of Capital Economics comments: “With debt-laden households being squeezed by falling real wages, and a major fiscal tightening on the way - probably including a further rise in VAT - the outlook for consumers, and hence retailers, remains far from rosy.”

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