Warm weather, royal wedding boosts British retail sales

19th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Retail sales in Britain grew by a larger-than-expected 1.1 percent in April from the level in March, as warm weather and the royal wedding boosted trade, official data showed on Thursday.

Analysts had forecast a rise of 0.7 percent in April, according to a poll by Dow Jones Newswires.

Retail sales meanwhile jumped by 2.8 percent in April compared with 12 months earlier, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. That compared with expectations for a gain of 2.4 percent.

"It must be noted that April 2011 was an unusual month for a number of reasons," the ONS said.

"It was the warmest April since records began. There was a special bank (public) holiday for the royal wedding (and) the royal wedding itself."

Food sales were especially boosted by Britons hosting parties to celebrate Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton on April 29.

"The better-than-expected retail sales figures have been distorted by the unseasonably warm weather and the royal wedding, so we would certainly not get carried away with one month's numbers," said Hetal Mehta, an economist at Daiwa Capital Markets Europe.

"Indeed, we expect much of this strength to unwind in May. And with the labour market still weak, household debt remaining high and real incomes falling, growth in the consumer sector of this scale cannot be sustainable."

© 2011 AFP

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