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Retail sales slow in April as Bank Rate outlook ‘darkens’

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Retail sales growth in the UK slowed in April to a rate of just 2.4%, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

This compared with a 6.8% increase in the same period a year earlier and analysts have warned that the figures could herald a longer-term retail slowdown in the coming months.

“With an interest rate rise forecast tomorrow, and more in the offing, the outlook could darken for retailers this year,” said retail analyst Debbie Harrison.

“It’s uncertain how people will react to further rate rises, especially as the level of indebtedness in the country  is so high, especially with so many people heavily mortgaged. Retail spending would be one of the first things out of the window.”

But the BRC was more upbeat about the figures. “This is a good result, helped by the exceptionally warm and dry weather which prevailed through most of the month,” said Kevin Hawkins, director general of the BRC.

“Predictably, some categories did better than others, although there was a general falling-off in sales growth towards the end of the month.

“Now that the Easter distortions are out of the way, we should get a clearer reading of the real level of sales growth as May progresses,” he added.



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