Retail sales jump in April driven by off-licence boost

Despite the rising cost of living hitting household budgets, sales volumes jumped 1.4% last month thanks to a boost in sales in off-licences.

The news comes as a surprise as sales fell 1.2% in March and experts expected sales to drop again in April as consumers cut back spending amid soaring living costs.

According to the Office for National Statistics, off-licences saw a boost in sales last month, suggesting people stayed in to save money.

AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson said the ‘big uptick’ in food and drink spending in supermarkets “might indicate that people are choosing their kitchen tables over pubs and restaurants as they look to save money”.

READ MORE: Cheers! Visiting London’s first non-alcoholic off-licence

“Whilst food spend has been largely unchanged, which suggests people are still being cautious, spend on alcohol and tobacco has soared,” Hewson said to the BBC.

“Life’s little luxuries… will have to come in under budget as those budgets are tested.”

Commenting on ONS retail sales figures, Deloitte head of retail Oliver Vernon-Harcourt said: “Despite expectations, the arrival of April’s warmer weather and the first bank holiday barbecues of the year have fired up retail sales, as both values and volumes rose by 1.9% and 1.4% respectively, driven by food sales and the first Easter free of Covid-19.

The news comes after the latest official figures showed inflation hit 9% in the 12 months to April – the highest rate for 40 years.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages contributed 0.61 percentage points to the annual rate, with prices growing 6.7% on the year, as the war in Ukraine has also hit global supplies.

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